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Pope, Orthodox leader sign document on environment

Joined by a video link, Pope John Paul II and the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians signed a declaration pn Monday stating that protecting the environment is a "moral and spiritual" duty.

Both the pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who was in Venice, have described the declaration as another step in helping bridge the nearly 1,000-year-old rift between the two ancient branches of Christianity.

"We are ... concerned about the negative consequences for humanity and for all creation resulting from the degradation of some basic natural resources such as water, air and land, brought about by an economic and technological progress which does not recognize and take into account its limits," the document said.

The text, which does not out outline any binding action, was the first the two religious leaders have signed concerning the environment. However, common declarations between the two are not unusual.

The declaration invites "all men and women of good will" to consider ethical goals in the protection of the environment.

About 250 religious figures, scientists and environmentalists joined the patriarch on a trip around the Adriatic his fourth crusade to point out ecological problems. Other trips have taken him to the Aegean and Black Seas and down the Danube River. The Adriatic faces pollution from raw sewage, herbicides, pesticides and industrial waste which flow into the 650 km Mediterranean offshoot, surrounded by Italy and the Balkans.

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople


12 Jun 2002