Brazil hosts ecumenical symposium on environment

 An ecumenical symposium on the protection of the environment has been been taking place this week in Brazil. Organised by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, as part of its 'Religion, Science and Environment' project, the theme of which this years event is: 'The Amazon River: source of life.' The gathering, from July 13 to 20 was held 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 was supported by the Catholic Church in Brazil, was attended by Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, and 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 thanked Bartholomew for "your support for the Brazilian episcopate's commitment in Amazonia and your activity on behalf of the environment, the deterioration of which has grave and profound repercussions upon peoples." He said: "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, and could have an important impact on the perceived value of life itself and on the adequate solution of social problems." The Holy Father expressed the hope that the Amazon symposium would "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 highlighted 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, 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 defence of creation." The Pope observed how reciprocal respect between faiths came about through initiatives such as this one, and concluded: "It is necessary 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." Source: VIS

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