Patriarch Bartholomew is leading an interfaith shipboard symposium down the coast of Greenland to improve cooperation between religious and political leaders.
Standing on the bow of a passenger ship before the fast-melting Ilulissat glacier, religious leaders from around the world lowered their heads in a silent prayer for the future of the planet.
Surrounded by icebergs, Sunni, Shiite, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Shinto leaders committed themselves last Friday to leave the planet "in all its wisdom and beauty to the generations to come." They included the Grand Rabbi of Paris, René-Samuel Sirat, Bishop Sofie Petersen of Greenland, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, and the Rev. Jim Ball, founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
They are in Greenland for a six-day tour on the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the senior-most figure in Orthodox Christianity, widely known as the Green Patriarch for his efforts to mobilize religious leaders to protect the environment.
Patriarch Bartholomew, who is based in Istanbul, Turkey, has traveled to many of the world's environmental hotspots including the Black Sea, the Danube, and the Amazon, usually as part of a series of shipboard symposiums between religious, scientific, and political leaders.
Now he is taking on climate change, traveling down the Greenland coast by ship in the company of Princess Irene of Denmark, Greenland foreign minister Aleqa Hammond, and over 100 dignitaries, scientists, clergy, and journalists. The onboard forum is designed to focus global attention on climate change, whose effects can be seen most dramatically in Greenland, most scientists agree.
"Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development, and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family," said Bartholomew at the conference's opening.