D.C.’s Newest Environmental Advocate: The Orthodox Patriarch

By Michelle Boorstein Top U.S. officials will meet this week with an unusual environmental lobbyist: the head of the world … Continued

By Michelle Boorstein

Top U.S. officials will meet this week with an unusual environmental lobbyist: the head of the world Orthodox Church.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians, who also has come to be known as “the green patriarch,” arrived at Andrews Air Force Base last night from New York. He will meet this week with the area’s Orthodox Christians, diplomats and U.S. government bigwigs including President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and Speaker of the House Pelosi.

While the Christian Orthodox population in the U.S. is small – about 4 million – the Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian community in the world after the Roman Catholic Church. For the Obama Adminstration, that means a chance to connect with communities in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

Experts say Bartholomew, who has been in office 18 years today, has made an effort to engage the church with the world, to make spiritual issues into public and public policy issues as opposed to remaining behind a strict church-state wall. His big issue has been the environment, which is why people call him “the green patriarch.” He has organized eight major meetings on the subject, focused on the issue of water. His most recent was a few weeks ago in New Orleans, focused on the Mississippi River.

Today, his first full day in the Washington area, he’ll meet with ambassadors of Turkey and Greece and then visit with Orthodox Christians who live in the Annapolis area. But most of the rest of the week he’ll be lecturing and meeting U.S. officials to talk about the religious imperative to care for the environment and also religious freedom issues.

  • Cymbyz

    Your readers should bear several things in mind: it’s somewhat erroneous to characterize the Ecumenical Patriarch as Head of the Orthodox Church. Firstly, Orthodoxy is conciliary or synodal, not truly monarchical (though some bishops would like to pretend otherwise). Secondly, Orthodoxy is a confederation of 19 self-governing Churches, of which the Ecumenical Patriarchate is but one, though it receives honors as first among equals.Thirdly, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is in proximate danger of losing its see because the Turkish government, to which all religious organizations in Turkey are beholden, is adamantly secularist; moreover, the Turkish people would just as soon see the Greks and other ethnic minotiries in Turkey silently vanish away.In short, Patriarch Bartholomew’s espousal of Envitonmentalism, while it has legitimate roots in Orthodox theology, serves as a ploy to keep him and the parlousness of his estate in the eyes of the world beyond Turkey.

  • nunivek

    I too was surprised by the label of “head” of the Orthodox Church, it seems like a bit of a misunderstanding of Church ecclesiology.

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

987_00
An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

shutterstock_134310734
Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.