The Asia News website reports today (March 14, 2011) that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has sent a message to the Japanese people, in which he expresses the solidarity of the Orthodox world, and calls on all nations to abandon the use of nuclear energy.
The patriarch's message was sent on the first Sunday of Lent (March 13) -- also called the Sunday of Orthodoxy -- on the anniversary of the restoration of the veneration of icons, which occurred in 843, as an expression of respect towards people they represent.
"With a heart heavy with pain, all humanity is witnessing the tragedy that has struck the land of Japan, causing the death of many of our brothers and sisters. Prayers are being lifted from all corners of the earth as a sign of solidarity with our Japanese brethren," Bartholomew writes in his message.
The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 is expected to rise to more than 10,000 people.