WCC expresses sympathies to those affected by wildfires: an “existential test for all humanity”


27 July 2023

In pastoral letters to His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, His Beatitude Hieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, and the Evangelical Church of Greece, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay conveyed sincere sympathies as wildfires raged across the land.

“It is disheartening over these last weeks to witness the dozens of devastating fires, the ferocious winds, recurring heat waves, and extensive damage to the land and to the small villages of the countryside, the islands, and even the outskirts of Athens and Corinth,” wrote Pillay. “At one point, 52 new conflagrations were sparked within a 24-hour period.”

Pillay noted that these fires spell incalculable damage to the lives and livelihoods of all involved and to the nation’s whole economy. 

“Not just Greece but all of southern Europe and northern Africa have been jolted by this summer’s weather systems, as have many other locales, too,” Pillay wrote. “But it is ironic that Greece, not a substantial contributor to climate change, should be at the forefront of battling it.”

Greece is close to the hearts of Christians everywhere, Pillay added. “As it is of Western democracy, so too Greece is a cradle of early Christianity and some of its earliest assemblies,” he wrote. “Greek Christianity is also a major progenitor of the ecumenical movement, of ecumenical theology, and of leadership in the fellowship.”

The World Council of Churches joins the Ecumenical Patriarch in recognizing the moral and religious imperatives that climate change is posing, Pillay concluded. “We stand with you, and we pledge our continued best efforts in this existential test for all humanity,” he wrote.

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