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Thursday, July 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JUL 20, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of a Message from Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople for the 6th symposium on the environment organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate as part of its "Religion, Science and Environment" project, the theme of which this year is "The Amazon River: source of life."

  The symposia of the project are always held afloat, and this year's edition is being celebrated from July 13 to 20 on a ship sailing along the Amazon River. The aim of the project is to promote "awareness of the grave problems threatening creation, and commitment to joint action among Christians and men of religion in attempting to solve them."

  The symposium, which is also taking place under the patronage of the Catholic Church in Brazil, is being attended by, among others, Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, and by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals, who delivered the Pope's Message to the Patriarch Bartholomew I. In that Message, the Pope thanks Bartholomew for "your support for the Brazilian episcopate's commitment in Amazonia and your activity in favor of the environment, the deterioration of which has grave and profound repercussions upon peoples."

  "The task of highlighting an appropriate catechesis of creation - in order to recall the meaning and religious significance of its protection - is intimately connected to our duty as pastors," writes the Pope, "and could have an important impact on the perceived value of life itself and on the adequate solution of ... social problems."

  The Holy Father expresses the hope that the Amazon symposium "may once again draw the attention of peoples and governments to the problems and urgent needs of an area ... so threatened in its ecological balance." He also highlights how, with this initiative, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has sought to demonstrate "Christian support to the people of the Amazon regions."

  "In our common commitment," says Pope Benedict in his Message," I see an example of that collaboration which Orthodox and Catholics must seek constantly in order to respond to the need for a shared testimony. This means that all Christians must cultivate that interior openness of soul which is dictated by charity and has its roots in the faith. In this way, they can together offer the world a credible witness of their sense of responsibility towards the defense of creation."

  Remarking on the presence at the symposium of figures from the great monotheistic religions, the Pope observes how "reciprocal respect" between faiths also comes about through initiatives such as this one, which concern the interests of all. "It is necessary," he concludes, "to find common ground in which to bring together the commitment of each individual to defend the habitat ordained by the Creator for human beings."
MESS/ENVIRONMENT/BARTHOLOMEW I                VIS 20060720 (490)

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