04 March 2015, The Tablet

Orthodox Patriarch joins Hollande on visit to Philippines

The French President François Hollande included Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in his delegation on a visit to the Philippines last week to highlight the need for an international agreement on climate change at a major conference due in December in Paris.

Mr Hollande's ecological adviser Nicolas Hulot said the presence of the Istanbul-based Patriarch, known for his interest in the environment, highlighted the role religious leaders can play in working towards a consensus on battling climate change.

Mr Hulot, who has also visited the Vatican seeking support for this effort, said his contacts there told him Pope Francis was writing parts of his encyclical on the environment himself, which shows “a strong personal involvement” by the Pope.

Mr Hollande’s delegation, which included politicians, scientists and celebrities, visited Guiuan, a town devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, to illustrate the effects of climate change.

“We cannot have two ways of looking at the world: religious on the one hand and worldly on the other,” Bartholomew told a conference in Manila, where he also met the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Luis Tagle. “We cannot separate our concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice from concern for ecological preservation and sustainability.”

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