Address delivered during the official visit of His Royal Highness Prince Philip

A Common Obligation

May 31, 1992


It is with great joy and profound esteem that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in our humble person and on behalf of the Holy Synod, welcomes Your Royal Highness here today to this sacred Center of Orthodoxy. Your visit brings special honor to our Church here as well as to the entire Orthodox Church. We thank you for the effort which you so kindly incurred in order to come here and for willingly responding to the invitation of our predecessor, Patriarch Demetrios of blessed memory, which our modesty very happily renewed.


The bonds between your Royal Highness and the Orthodox Church are old and deep. Deep and close, as well, are the bonds which for a long time have bound the Orthodox Church, and particularly the Ecumenical Patriar­chate, with the Church of England, whose head is her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.        Your presence here further strengthens these bonds, promoting unity among peoples and among human beings, a unity of which the contemporary world is in much need.


A Unique Witness


We are particularly pleased by the fact that your Royal Highness is visiting this sacred center after so short a time since the assembly of the Inter-Orthodox Committee was convened on the Is­land of Crete at the Orthodox Academy in order to study the issue of the protection of the natural environment. All of the Orthodox Churches, par­ticularly the Ecumenical Patriarchate, were moved by the fact that your Royal Highness deemed fit to honor this conference with your participation and to inaugurate its sessions with your inspired address, which was appreciated most deeply by the participants at the conference as it indeed added ines­timable meaning to its success. Your visit here offers us the opportunity to express our gratitude for your Royal Highness' contribution toward so deli­cate and sensitive an initiative as that taken by the Ecumenical Patriar­chate.


The sensitivity manifested by your Royal Highness toward the protec­tion of the natural environment is well known and deeply appreciated by all. As President of the World Wide Fund for Nature International (WWF), you have made an inestimable contribution toward the preservation of nature. This contribution on your part is especially moving to our Church, which con­siders the preservation of God's creation to be a part of her sacred duty. As you have been made aware from the encyclical message of our predecessor Patriarch Demetrios of blessed memory (dated September 1st, 1989), our Church has desig­nated the 1st day of September of each year as a day of prayers for the natural environment. It is our hope and prayer that this proposal by the Ecumeni­cal Patriarchate, which has already been accepted by the Primates of all the other Orthodox Churches during their recent assembly, which took place here on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, might be adopted, if possible,      by all Christians in general. This would contribute greatly to the establishment, by all believers in Christ, of a common and unique position on so critical an issue as the protection of God's material creation.







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