MOSCOW — In a novel bid to draw attention to the environmental plight of the Baltic Sea, leading Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant clerics cruised around it, holding ecumenical services in various ports, consulting with scientists and prodding local politicians to take action.
By the end of the weeklong cruise, held under the auspices of Istanbul's Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, there was a buzz in the nine-nation region and a common sense of purpose among the churchmen, scientists and environmental activists on board, participants said.
Missing, however, was any involvement from the region's biggest polluter, Russia, and biggest denomination, the Russian Orthodox Church.
A week before the cruise started June 2 in Gdynia, Poland, the Russian Orthodox delegation refused to take part, citing a property dispute between its church and the ecumenical patriarch, according to a cruise spokesman and Russian media reports. Russian Orthodox leaders and the ecumenical patriarch have been feuding for a decade over which church has jurisdiction in Estonia, a predominantly Lutheran nation on the Baltic coast.