23 December 2012

2012 Nativity Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE
Protocol Number 1124

PATRIARCHAL ENCYCLICAL
FOR CHRISTMAS

+ BARTHOLOMEW
By the Mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
And Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Mercy and Peace
From the Savior Christ Born in Bethlehem

* * *

“Christ is born, glorify Him; Christ is on earth, exalt Him.”

Let us rejoice in gladness for the ineffable condescension of God.The angels precede us singing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will among all people.”

Yet, on earth we behold and experience wars and threats of wars. Still, the joyful announcement is in no way annulled. Peace has truly come to earth through reconciliation between God and people in the person of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, however, we human beings have not been reconciled, despite God’s sacred will. We retain a hateful disposition for one another. We discriminate against one another by means of fanaticism with regard to religious and political convictions, by means of greed in the acquisition of material goods, and through expansionism in the exercise of political power. These are the reasons why we come into conflict with one another.

With his Decree of Milan issued in 313AD, the enlightened Roman emperor, St. Constantine the Great, instituted freedom in the practice of the Christian faith, alongside freedom in the practice of every other religion. Sadly, with the passing since then of precisely 1700 years, we continue to see religious persecution against Christians and other Christian minorities in various places.

Moreover, economic competition is spreading globally, as is the pursuit of ephemeral profit, which is promoted as a principal target. The gloomy consequences of the over-concentration of wealth in the hands of the few and the financial desolation of the vast human masses are ignored. This disproportion, which is described worldwide as a financial crisis, is essentially the product of a moral crisis. Nevertheless, humankind is regrettably not attributing the proper significance to this moral crisis. In order to justify this indifference, people invoke the notion of free trade. But free trade is not a license for crime. And criminal conduct is far more than what is recorded in penal codes. It includes what cannot be foreseen by the prescription of statutory laws, such as the confiscation of people’s wealth by supposedly legitimate means. Inasmuch, therefore, as the law cannot be formally imposed, the actions of a minority of citizens are often expressed in an unrestrained manner, provoking disruption in social justice and peace.

From the Ecumenical Patriarchate, then, we have been closely following the “signs of the times,” which everywhere echo the “sounds” of “war and turmoil” – with “nation rising against nation, dominion against dominion, great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues, alongside dreadful phenomena and heavenly portents.” (Luke 21.10-12) In many ways, we are experiencing what St. Basil wrote about “the two types of love: one is feeling sorrow and concern upon seeing one’s beloved harmed; the other is rejoicing and striving to benefit one’s beloved. Anyone who demonstrates neither of these categories clearly does not love one’s brother or sister. (Basil the Great, Shorter Rules, PG31.1200A) This is why, from this sacred See and Center of Orthodoxy, we proclaim the impending new year as the Year of Global Solidarity.

It is our hope that in this way we may be able to sensitize sufficient hearts among humankind regarding the immense and extensive problem of poverty and the need to assume the necessary measures to comfort the hungry and misfortunate.

As your spiritual father and church leader, we ask for the support of all persons and governments of good will in order that we may realize the Lord’s peace on earth – the peace announced by the angels and granted by the infant Jesus. If we truly desire this peace, which transcends all understanding, we are obliged to pursue it palpably instead of being indifferent to the spiritual and material vulnerability of our brothers and sisters, for whom Christ was born.

Love and peace are the essential features of the Lord’s disciples and of every Christian. So let us encourage one another during this Year of Global Solidarity to make every conscious effort – as individuals and nations – for the reduction of the inhumane consequences created by the vast inequalities as well as the recognition by all people of the rights of the weakest among us in order that everyone may enjoy the essential goods necessary for human life. Thus, we shall indeed witness – at least to the degree that it is humanly possible – the realization of peace on earth.
Together with all of material and spiritual creation, we venerate the nativity of the Son and Word of God from the Virgin Mary, bowing down before the newborn Jesus – our illumination and salvation, our advocate in life – and wondering like the Psalmist “Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid?” (Ps. 26.1) as Christians, since “to us is born today a savior” (Luke 2.11), “the Lord of hosts, the king of glory.” (Ps. 23.10)

We hope earnestly and pray fervently that the dawning 2013 will be for everyone a year of global solidarity, freedom, reconciliation, good will, peace and joy. May the pre-eternal Word of the Father, who was born in a manger, who united angels and human beings into one order, establishing peace on earth, grant to all people patience, hope and strength, while blessing the world with the divine gifts of His love. Amen.

At the Phanar, Christmas 2012
Your fervent supplicant before God
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople


「基督誕生了,讚美祂吧;基督在世上,榮耀祂吧!」
讓我們在喜樂中歡慶神聖而無法言喻的,神的屈尊降卑。眾天使先於我們歌頌著:「在至高之處榮耀歸與神!在地上平安歸與他所喜悅的人!」
然而,在世上我們看見、我們經驗到戰爭和恫嚇。儘管如此,喜樂的宣告絕不廢去。平安確實已經臨到世上,藉著耶穌基督的位格,神與眾人和好。然而,不幸地,儘管這是神的神聖旨意,我們人類依然尚未和解。在我們的性情中,仍舊滿懷對彼此的憎恨。藉由宗教和政治信念的狂熱主義,藉由貪婪地攫取財物,藉由在政治權力中行使擴張主義,我們歧視彼此。這就是我們陷入衝突的原因。
開明的羅馬君王聖君士坦丁大帝(St. Constantine the Great),在西元313年頒訂的米蘭諭令(the Decree of Milan)中,確立了信仰基督的自由,以及信仰其他宗教的自由。悲哀的是,從古至今,正好經歷了1700年,我們仍舊看見對基督徒的宗教迫害,包括迫害各地屬於少數群體的基督徒。
此外,經濟競爭在全球蔓延,鼓吹人們將追求瞬息即逝的利益視為首要目標。財富過度集中在少數人手裡,無數的社會大眾財務破產,所造成的陰暗後果卻被忽略。這種失衡,全世界稱之為金融危機,但本質上卻是道德危機的產物。然而,遺憾地,人類並未確切明白地道德危機的重要性。為了正當化自己的冷漠,人們引用自由貿易的概念。但自由貿易並不是犯罪許可證。犯罪行為也遠不只是刑法所列的條文。犯罪還包括法律規定無法預見的行為,例如藉著假想的法律手段查封人們的財產。由於法律無法正式地強制施行,少數公民的行為因此表現出放縱的態度,導致社會正義與和平的瓦解。
普世宗主教聖統密切注意著「時候的預兆」(signs of the times),各地都回響著「聽見打仗和擾亂的事」-「民要攻打民,國要攻打國;地要大大震動,多處必有饑荒、瘟疫,又有可怕的異象和大神蹟從天上顯現」(路21:10~12)。在許多方面,我們正在經歷St. Basil所寫的「兩種愛:一種看見所愛之人受傷時感到悲傷和擔憂,另一種歡喜勤奮地利益所愛之人。任何人若未顯現任何一種愛,明顯地,並不愛弟兄姊妹」(Basil the Great, Shorter Rules, PG31.1200A)。因此,發自正教會的聖座和中心,我們宣布即將來臨的新年為全球團結年(the Year of Global Solidarity)。
希望透過這樣的方式,我們也許能使足夠的人類心靈對無數且廣泛的問題變得敏銳,包括貧窮,以及安慰飢餓者和不幸者所必須採取的必要措施。
身為你們的屬靈父親和教會領袖,我尋求所有人民和政府的善意支持,使我們有可能在地上實現上主的平安-這平安由天使宣告,由嬰孩耶穌賜予。如果我們真的想要這超越理解的平安,我們必須明明的追求,好取代我們對弟兄姊妹的漠不關心,包括他們脆弱的靈性生活和物質生活。基督為我們的弟兄姊妹而生。
愛和平安是主的門徒和每個基督徒必要的特徵。因此讓我們彼此激勵,在全球團結年,有意識地盡一切努力-不論身為個人或國家-減少因極度的不平等造成的殘酷後果,所有人承認在我們之中最軟弱的弟兄姊妹的權利,好使每個人都能享有人類生活所必需的基本財物。因此,我們將確實見證-至少在人類可能的能力範圍內-實現地上的平安。
我們與一切有形無形的受造物一起尊崇聖子、神的道,自童貞女馬利亞而生,我們俯伏在新生兒耶穌之前-我們的亮光和拯救,我們生命的辯護者-我們如同詩篇作者一般地驚嘆:「…我還怕誰呢?…我還懼誰呢?」(詩27:1),因為,身為基督徒「因今天…,為你們生了救主」(路2:11),「萬軍之耶和華,他是榮耀的王!」(詩24:10)。
我們誠摯地盼望,我們熱切地祈禱,曙光初現的2013年,將會是每個人的全球團結年、自由年、和好年、親善年、平安年和喜樂年。願聖父的道,先於永恆、生於馬槽、將天使與人類同歸於一的那一位,在世上建立平安,賜予所有人耐心、盼望和力量,同時賜福世界與祂出於愛的神聖恩典同在。阿們。

                                        於Phanar, 2012聖誕節
                                        神面前懇切的代禱者
                                        +君士坦丁堡的巴多羅買


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