Today Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is arriving in the United States for a pastoral visit. He will be here from October 20th to November 5th, visiting New Orleans, New York, Atlanta, and Washington, DC (full itinerary here). I heard His All Holiness speak in Baltimore in the late 1990′s and I was impressed with the man. I also have have been greatly impressed with his efforts to achieve a closer unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. I especially was touched at his participation in the opening of the Year of St. Paul with Pope Benedict back in 2008.
But what Bartholomew has become most known for in recent years is his environmental crusade. Many have been calling him the “Green Patriarch” because of his focus on this issue. In fact, the first item on Bartholomew’s agenda in the United States is to attend the “Religion, Science and The Environment Symposium” held in New Orleans. I do not have a problem with Christian leaders advocating a responsible use of our world’s resources (God knows that our country too often puts personal comfort above any other consideration when using the resources God gives us), but I do wish he would be more outspoken about other moral evils such as abortion, which ravages traditionally Orthodox countries.
Let us pray that Bartholomew’s visit is a time of great blessing for Orthodox Christians and that His All Holiness will have the courage to be a prophetic voice in the world.