Holy Spirit College: Orthodox and Catholic Common Declaration on Sanctity of Life
The signing of the 'Common Declaration on the Sanctity of Life' is one more sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in a new missionary age.
'Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition emphasize the sacred dignity of the human person and God's purpose in creating, to confer his blessings upon him. In today's society, we have witnessed many attacks on human life, especially in its most vulnerable stages. As our heavenly patrons, Ss. Peter and Andrew were one as brothers and Apostles of the Lord, we too are united as brothers, as we affirm the sacred dignity and value of every human life.' (From the Common Declaration)
Fr Paul Burke, Chair of the Theology faculty at Holy Spirit College, Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, Most Reverend Archbishop Wilton D Gregory of Atlanta and the Very Rev. Fr. George Tsahakis
ATLANTA, GA. (Catholic Online) - I am one of a growing number of people calling Pope Benedict XVI the "Pope of Christian Unity". In his first Papal message he proclaimed, "Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration.
"Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Lk 22: 32). With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."
He has placed the commitment to the full communion of the Church at the forefront of his Papacy. His overtures toward groups of Anglicans seeking full communion is both historic and prophetic. However, it concerns the healing of the wounds caused by divisions in Western Christianity.
I contend that his repeated overtures and obvious respect shown toward our Orthodox brethren - whom we recognize as a full Church and whose priesthood and Sacraments we recognize - is an even more profound sign of the significance of the age in which we live. I have written on the warming of relations between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a beginning. There are growing signs that the Holy Spirit is at work in pulling these Churches along the path toward a form of restored communion.
I believe that the efforts and prayers of the Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict, the Pope of Christian Unity, will result in the "two lungs" of the Church, East and West, breathing together again to animate the One New Man, Christ Jesus. I am convinced there is a way in which the two churches can enter into full communion while maintaining the unique patrimony and beauty found within each of them for the sake of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
This flows from my conviction that the Church is God's plan, the only hope for a world teetering on collapse without the anchor of Jesus Christ. In fact I will go a step further; I believe it will happen in my lifetime. Finally, I know that prayer helps to move time toward the unfolding plan of the One is the Head of His Church and desires her unity so that the world may believe. (John 17:21) I believe that this form of restored communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches will be one of the most important developments of the Third Christian Millennium.
We are struggling under a new barbarism which purports to be "progressive" while it leads our culture into the barrenness of the old paganism pretending to be new.One of the promising signs is the mutual call - from both Orthodox and Catholic Church leaders- for collaboration in reaching into the current culture of death with a united prophetic voice in order to offer a different way, a culture of life and civilization of love. This joint cultural mission is already underway in Europe. It is beginning to find a footing in the United States. As the West staggers under what Pope Benedict XVI called a "Dictatorship of Relativism, the world needs the Church breathing with both lungs to become its soul once again.
That is why I was thrilled to discover that one of my favorite authentically Catholic Colleges in the United States, Holy Spirit College in Atlanta, Georgia, is involved in this vital effort. I interviewed Fr Paul Burke, the Chair of the faculty of theology at Holy Spirit College and Parochial Vicar at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in May and wrote one of several articles I have written on Holy Spirit College. The theology faculty, under his leadership, offers coursework which promotes authentic dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church and promotes the Holy Father's vision for authentic cooperation. To be faithfully Catholic means to long for the unity of Christ's Church.
At the direction of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Wilton D Gregory of Atlanta, Fr. Burke spent nearly a year, along with the Very Rev. Fr. George Tsahakis, the Chancellor of the Greek orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, working on a "Common Declaration on the Sanctity of Life". Holy Spirit College enthusiastically supports this effort. It is institutionally committed to an authentic vision of ecumenism which recognizes that its goal is full communion.
The Declaration was then reviewed and approved by the Pro-Life and Ecumenism secretariats of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Fr Burke told me that "the ...
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