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Closing Remarks
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew


We have come toward the end of our journey on the Great Mississippi. It was a journey that started in Memphis and concluded in New Orleans. A journey that learned from the Native American and from the African Americans. A journey that revealed the promise of the river and also uncovered the betrayal by humans. A journey that described the rich and diverse history of the region, as well as the hospitality and resilience of its people. A journey that started with “soul” and ended with “blues”. A journey with images of beauty and disaster, but also renewal and hope.

We will return to our homes with clearer insight into the damage we have brought to God’s creation – ecological and social. We will come away with a sober reminder about how the deliberate actions of our greed, or the delayed actions of our indifference, destroy natural habitats and human lives. We will carry with us a sense of urgent responsibility for the situation here, as well as globally.

We know now that we can never forget this city! We recognize that we must remember it in our prayers, as in our generosity, as in our pressure on politicians, as in our local or broader efforts for the preservation of this planet – from whatever position each of us holds: as a religious leader and as a scientist, as an elder and as a theologian, as a government official and as an NGO, as a local resident and as a global citizen.

We are profoundly indebted to the extraordinary representatives of renowned scientific organisations and academic institutions, as well as to the leaders of religious groups and secular agencies, for their generous presence and contribution to the success of this, the 8th of our international interfaith, interdisciplinary Ecological Symposia, organised by Religion, Science and the Environment under the exceptional direction and skilful management of Mrs. Maria Becket.

May God bless all of you as you return to your homes and positions. Let us not forget our responsibility toward this city as a microcosm of God’s creation, that is crying out for our gentle care and gracious renewal. Let us no longer be silent as we approach the meeting in Copenhagen. Let us persist and protest about what really matters – namely, the salvation of the soul of this planet.



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