STATEMENT By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Natural Catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey

The ongoing devastation of Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Harvey in the Gulf shore region of Texas, and particularly in Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is a grim reminder of the terrifying power of nature. Our Ecumenical Patriarchate grieves over the heart-rending loss of life, and bemoans the tremendous loss of property and painful ruin of so many thousands of families’ lives. We pray for the eternal repose of those whose lives were cut short by this calamity, as well as for the consolation of the bereaved families.

We remember our Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and those who minister and labor for the Orthodox faithful of Houston. We pray for all civil authorities, particularly for those brave women and men providing emergency services and relief to those in desperate circumstances. May God provide them strength and fortitude in this, their hour of need.

We call upon our Holy Archdiocese of America to provide aid and assistance as it is able, whether through the International Orthodox Christian Charities, the National Philoptochos, or Archdiocesan discretionary resources. Now is the time for compassion and solidarity in action, and we commend those who have already done so.

Now is also a time to reflect on the awesome power of creation, and our human responsibility to be good and wise stewards of the environment. We are all called to participate in the redemption and stewardship of our world whether it is through working to ameliorate the destructive force of such hurricanes by better environmental planning; or committing more seriously to the grave issue of climate change and how it is affecting our planet; or even becoming personally involved in the charities that provide comfort and support to those whose lives are so drastically changed in the blink of an eye.

As we join together in these important humanitarian acts, we will ever call upon God our Maker, Who is All-Merciful and the true Philanthropos, that He may ‘remember His covenant which is between Him and us and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh’ (Genesis 9:15). Amen.

August 29, 2017

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