Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew urged all the members of the Orthodox faith around the world to become vaccinated against the coronavirus, if they have not already done so, in a Christmas message on Tuesday.
“Science, provided it serves to minister to humanity, is a precious gift from God,” he noted. Bartholomew then urged the faithful to follow the advice of health authorities and all appropriate measures to counter the virus during the holidays.
He exhorted all Orthodox people to “not get carried away by the irresponsible voices of non-experts and those proclaiming themselves representatives of God and ‘spiritual advisors’ of the genuine faith, who contradict themselves woefully, however, due to their lack of love for their fellows, whose life they expose to great danger.
Last year, Bartholomew issued a special video message in English exhorting all peoples across the world to take special care during Christmas to avoid infecting themselves and others and lauding all those responsible for bringing about the vaccines.
“Fidelity to Church tradition does not mean shutting down the past, but utilizing the past experience in the context of the present,” the leader of all Greek Orthodox believers stated, adding that “in the year approaching its end, the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus has tried humanity.
“We praise the God of mercy, Who led scientists to create effective vaccines, and other medicines, to counter the crisis. Science, as long as it works in the service of man, is a gift from God,” he declared, adding, “It is useful for us to gratefully accept the gift.”
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew completed 30 years as the spiritual leader of 300 million faithful of the Greek Orthodox Church worldwide as of November, 2021.
It was October 22, 1991 when he was elected and ascended to the Ecumenical Throne on November 2, 1991.
In these 30 years, His All Holiness has not only worked for reconciling Christian Churches but also earned an international reputation for raising ecological awareness on a global level.
As the leader of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew represents the voice and concerns of a long-suffering, but fast growing faith, as Orthodox Churches are gaining adherents across the globe.
The Ecumenical Patriarch marked the 30th anniversary of his enthronement with visits to the U.S. and Greece.
Selfless sacrifice of September 11 first responders lauded by Bartholomew
He dedicated the cross atop the rebuilt St. Nicholas Shrine at Ground Zero in Manhattan in September, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist bombings that leveled the original church there.
At the Tuesday morning dedication, the Patriarch said that he stood today on the very spot “where the world changed in a cruel and terrible moment” twenty years ago.
He stated that he stood “before a holy temple, where there has been extraordinary toil and labor” in the reconstruction of the building that was lost on September 11. “This is where the Greek Orthodox faith will take the lead in manifesting to the world that good will triumph over evil and love over hate,” Bartholomew proclaimed.
Bartholomew likened the dedication of the building to the conversion to Christianity of the Emperor Constantine, who saw a cross in the sky, and declared that “By this sign, I will conquer.” The Ecumenical Patriarch stated “This crowning of the church by the exaltation of the cross is our sign of victory.
“The cowardly attack that brought so much death to this place will not have the final word,” he declared.
Speaking of the first responders who selflessly rushed to the scene of the attacks on September 11, in total disregard for their own safety, Bartholomew said “The brave souls who ascended the stairs of the World Trade Center made a ladder to heaven, even as their bodies were left in the ruins that day.”