On Thursday, May 20, another online event was held within the project The 14th Ecumenical Social Week. This time we discussed the nuclear energy, its ecological and ethic dimensions for Ukraine and the world. The event was initiated by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

The experts, who participated: Serhii Plokhii, Professor of the History of Ukraine at Harvard University, Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University; Vitalii Demianiuk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at the NT-Engineering company, Ukrainian engineer, entrepreneur, public activist, philanthropist; Oleh Pokalchuk, social psychologist and Volodymyr Sheremeta, Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church Ecobureau.

The event was moderated by Oksana Kulakovska, Director of the Analytical Center and the Kyiv Center of UCU.

Pope Francis accentuates that we should apply the interdisciplinary approach to the environmental issue. And our Ecumenical Social Week strives to do this. The today meeting is a vivid example of this approach. When a scholar, an engineer, a historian, a theologian and a psychologist sit at the same “virtual table” and learn from each other and give us, the participants, chance to learn and to investigate the issue of the nuclear energy from different points of view” - Pavlo Smytsnyuk, the director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of UCU, addressed the audience.

The end of the fossil fuel era and the "Green" course in the public-practical discourse of Ukraine and the world

We have only used oil, coal and gas for 200 years, but it’s leading us to a climate crisis whose consequences will be catastrophic. In order for the global average temperature to rise below 1.5° C for the purposes of the Paris Agreement, we need to stop using fossil fuels and leave up to 80% of the earth’s reserves in the ground. That is why, in order to build a new climate-neutral economy, we need to create our own Green Course, based on the European Green Deal (EGD).

It is no coincidence that the European Union has created a need for a new green course in response to all major climate risks in areas such as energy, the economy, the environment and the use of natural resources, sustainable development and equal basic conditions of social welfare.

Introduction

Mankind is now facing global socio-environmental challenges. Depletion of natural resources, pollution of the environment, lack of access to drinking water, deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change, degradation of ecological systems - all these things are just some of the symptoms of the current environmental crisis. Anthropogenic impact on the environment has no analogues in history and boomerang returns to man, threatening his health and life, negatively affecting the social well-being of contemporaries and future generations.

Current attempts to resolve the environmental crisis are mostly aimed at overcoming the consequences, rather than eliminating the causes and are of superficial character. There is a lack of a systematic approach, consolidation of efforts on a sustainable basis and sequence of actions.

Introduction

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the role of the Church in preserving our natural home. My contribution will be primarily practice-oriented and largely based on practice - the experience of environmental service of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Pope Francis teaches in the encyclical Laudato si’ that in the context of the global environmental crisis (chapter 1), global environmental conversion and joint effective action (219) based on a holistic ecology are needed to save the common home (chapter 4-6).

The Church has a special competence and responsibility to promote ecological conversion, which begins with the conversion of the heart - with conversion to God, which must be holistic and also manifest itself in the changes of consciousness, in environmental virtues and new ecological lifestyles and attitudes towards the environment.

In Christian churches, we increasingly hear a voice in defense of the environment. Responsibility for nature becomes one of the principles of the Church's social doctrine. Different educational, prayerful and practical initiatives are launched in different Churches. We also have a number of positive ecumenical and environmental examples. This is the ecumenical-ecological round table of 2009 "Ecology of Life", held on the basis of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Ukraine, which aimed to promote the introduction of the Day of Prayer for the preservation of creation, by which the UGCC joined the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This is the conference in 2010 "Spirituality as the basis of environmental culture and responsibility"; it is of course also the international scientific-practical environmental-ecumenical conference "Laudato si’: environmental contribution to sustainable development of society" in December 2019.

Introduction:

Dear President, Rev. Dr. Iwan Dacko, Dear Director, Dr. Pavlo Smytsnyuk, Distinguished Professors and Members of Staff of this great Institute of Ecumenical Studies: I wish to express my gratitude for this invitation and the prayerful wishes of our entire Dicastery for a very successful conference on a most relevant theme.

In order to appreciate integral ecology as taught by Pope Francis in Laudato si’, I will offer my remarks today in three parts:

Hear the cry of the Earth

and the cry of the poor

WCC

One of the main subjects of modern reflection is the protection of the environment. The ruthless and methodic man-made vandalism of nature lead nature, as well as the entire inhibited world, to disaster. Recent incidents worldwide demonstrate man’s thoughtlessness towards nature[1]; for example the huge oil slick in Siberia, the fires in Australia, the explosion in Beirut (Lebanon) etc. Man is firmly convicted that sun will always rise the next morning[2]. But, when will he take into serious account that things are getting dangerous?

“Signs of the Times” – a Theological Basis of Ecotheology and the Christian Competence within the Frame of the Environmental Discourse

My contribution has two parts: First, a theological reflection on the topos "signs of the times", which is the basis of our conference. The aim of the argument is the development of five criteria of the signs of the times and their application to the ecological crisis in order to decide why and in what way they are a theological issue.

The second part deals with the question which competence the churches can contribute to the ecological discourse of a pluralistic, partly secular or atheistic society. I will speak also about the encyclical Laudato si’.

  1. Ecological Awareness as “Sign of the Times”
  2. Signs of the times are those phenomena that shape an era due to their universality and frequency. Signs of the times are characteristic for the distinctively new conflict situations within each historical context. Moreover, they refer to an epochal process of change that is historically significant. They do not only concern individual groups and their interests but mankind as a whole. They are universally meaningful for the development and future of mankind. Theologically they aim for a pastoral aggiornamento in order to see the traces of the future in the present.

The cry of the earth, some thoughts on the gospel of creation

Introduction

The topic of the cry of the Earth is very interesting from a theological point of view. It is a means to help Christians to be aware of the ecological crisis crossed by the planet in order to make them feel more responsible of their vocation for the care of creation. Attention is thus given to creation as a being and even a subject being concerned, in so far as it is a subject, by ecological crisis and not only because it concerns the jeopardy of the wellbeing and welfare of humanity. This discovery is plainly a part and a chapter of what Pope Francis calls the Good news of creation and the Gospel of creation. The role of this chapter of Laudato si’ is the shedding of the light of Christian Revelation on our ecological behaviors and more widely on our very sense of inhabitation of our common Home. This light is most important to see because it is the basis for a conversion to Integral ecology.

I. Introduction

Allow me to take you back on a journey to the story of creation. Whenever we think of the Genesis account of creation, we tend to ignore our connection to the environment. Perhaps it is a natural reaction – or perhaps it is a sign of arrogance – but we often overemphasize our creation “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:26) and overlook our creation from “the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7). Yet, our “heavenliness” should not overshadow our “earthliness.” Most people forget that we human beings did not get a day to ourselves in Genesis. In fact, we shared the sixth day with the creeping and crawling things of the world (Gen. 1:24-26). There is a binding unity and continuity that we share with all of God’s creation; it is helpful – and humble – to recall this truth.

CREATION CARE AND ECUMENICAL DIALOGUE

Orthodox Perspectives

First, allow me to thank the organizers for this ecumenical week and ecological webinar. I am also honored to join such distinguished colleagues.

Let me open with a confession that an ecumenical event such as this is surely neither coincidental nor accidental. I have come to believe that, in our relationship with creation, we are called to evoke and affirm our interconnectedness with the rest of the world. That is what I would call the ecumenical imperative of creation care. Because this sense of interconnectedness reminds us that the earth unites us all – before and beyond any doctrinal, political, racial, or other differences. We may or may not share religious principles, ethnic backgrounds, or political convictions. But we most definitely share an experience of the earth: the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the ground that we tread – albeit not always equitably or justly. By some mysterious connection that we do not always understand, the earth reminds us of our interconnectedness.

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