The Sophie Prize 2002:
The Jury's Decision

His All Holiness Bartholomew Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome And Ecumenical Patriarch

is the winner of the Sophie Prize 2002

The Norwegian Sophie Prize 2002 is awarded to one of the worlds most prominent religious leaders, His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople,  New Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch. The jury and board of the Sophie Foundation underline his pioneering efforts in linking faith to the environment. "His leadership has managed to raise the environmental awareness of 300 million members of Orthodox Churches and challenged religious leaders of all faiths to do the same", says Chairperson Elin Enge of the Sophie Foundation.

This year's Sophie Prize Winner has been awarded the prize for his spiritual and practical ecumenical leadership in the protection and healing of the Earth. Known as the “Green Patriarch”, His All Holiness has taken lead among all religious leaders in his concern and active care for the environment. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken out against injustice and inequity, challenging the present economic globalisation, that widens the gap between rich and poor and leads to excessive consumption.  

Background Notes

His All Holiness is the 270th successor to the Apostle St.  Andrew, and the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christian faithful worldwide. After ascending the Ecumenical Throne in 1991, he has helped the Church to expand on many fronts. Through his vision of spiritual revival expressed through active mobilisation for justice and peace, he has contributed to the realisation that the Orthodox Church is, today, one of the fastest growing Churches in the world. 

His Holiness is profoundly committed to the protection of the natural environment and sees this concern as a natural outgrowth of his role as religious and spiritual leader. He has challenged peoples of faiths to reflect on their obligations towards nature. Believing that caring for the earth is essential to faith itself. “To commit a crime against a natural world is sin”, he has stated. He has established September 1st  as a day of prayer throughout the Orthodox world for the protection of the natural environment.  

Lack of Justice and Over-consumption

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew points to the link between justice and equity and the protection of the natural environment. “If justice is identified with correct understanding, it

becomes immediately apparent that the contemporary acute ecological problem has its root precisely in the lack of justice”. “Consuming the fruits of the earth unrestrained, we become consumed ourselves, by avarice and greed “. This is the warning from the Patriarch of Constantinople. 

“By reducing our consumption,  termed in Orthodox Theology “encratia” or  --self-control--  we come to ensure that resources are also left for others in the world. As we shift our will we demonstrate a concern for the third world and developing nations”. 

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has boldly spoken out against many political leaders that undermine the Kyotoagreement, describing their actions as: “ self-centred behaviour, a symptom of our alienation from one another, and from our common existence”.  

Building bridges

His All Holiness has a truly global perspective, but is highly critical of the current economic globalisation process. This is reflected in his address to the World Economic Forum in Davos 1999, where he stated that globalisation widens the gap between the rich and the poor and undermines non-economic values such as survival and culture. ”Globalisation as a means of making humanity homogenous, of influencing the masses and causing a single, unified and unique mode of thought to prevail, will find us opposed”, he warned.  He promises to rally “progressive” forces for a globalisation that encourages diversity, respect, unity and Cupertino. 

The Ecumenical Patriarchate sits at the crossroads of East and West and has been actively engaged in fostering a dialogue between the Christian and Islamic worlds. His All Holiness has taken a lead role in attempts to curb conflicts in the name of religion. During the Balkan crisis, he made valuable contributions towards reconciliation and peace. Since the tragedy of the 11th September 2001, His All Holiness has tirelessly addressed the need to foster inter-faith communication, condemning terrorism and violation of human rights. He has recently met with President G. W. Bush addressing the need to advance the understanding between religions. 

Jury prize awarding grounds

The Jury of the Sophie Foundation has decided to grant the Sophie Prize 2002 to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, on account of:

  • His pioneering efforts in linking faith to the environment, thus reminding all people of faith of their direct responsibility to protect the Earth
  • His spiritual and practical environmental leadership, managing to raise the environmental awareness of 300 million faithful of the Orthodox Church worldwide and challenging religious leaders of all faiths to do the same.
  • His tireless efforts to bring attention to both rights and obligations, criticising both the overconsumption in the first world countries and the lack of justice that causes growing inequity in developing nations.