Holy Spirit College: Orthodox and Catholic Common Declaration on Sanctity of Life
declaration is an expression of common witness of the right to life and a concern for the many attacks that continue to take place against life from the moment of conception to natural death."
He explained that the collaboration emerged out of an ecumenical gathering to commemorate the "Year of St. Paul" held in 2009 when Archbishop Gregory and Metropolitan Alexios met at the Cathedral of Christ the King. "Together with clergy and faithful from their respective Churches, the hierarchs led an ecumenical gathering of prayer and hymnody reflecting the traditions of both East and West. Since then, there have been many such encounters rotating between our sister Churches. These encounters have been opportunities not only to pray together but also to strengthen the bonds of friendship and peace."
This wonderful declaration was signed on April 3, 2011 when Archbishop Gregory participated in an ecumenical service at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation with Metropolitan Alexios and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of the Diocese of Diokleia. Metropolitan Kallistos gave an address extolling the progress being made in the dialogue between the two churches. He also underscored the importance of dialogue at the local level and pointed to this joint declaration as a sign it is hhappening.
The declaration ends with these words: "Inspired and encouraged by the common witness of our venerable hierarchs, we, Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta and Wilton of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, commit ourselves anew to prayer, dialogue and mutual collaboration especially in areas of common concern. Given that the right to life is the foundation and most fundamental of all human rights, we voice our concern over the many attacks that continue to take place against human life from the moment of conception to natural death."
"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.
"We urge all those in public office to stand firm in their commitment to life. We exhort our people to pray and sacrifice for life. We cannot be indifferent to the cries of those whose voices have been silenced. Life is God's to give and it is only He who can take it away. We entrust our efforts to the intercession of the Most Blessed Theotokos, the Mother of God. In the Magnificat, her song of praise, she marveled at the great things that God has done in the lives of His people. May she intercede for us with the Creator and Author of Life so that a culture of death will be replaced by a civilization of life and love in which human life is accepted and protected as God's greatest and most precious gift."
We encourage our readers and viewers around the world to pray for these important efforts underway in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. It is one more sign that the Holy Spirit is at work, drawing the two lungs of the Church, East and West, to breathe together again. We commend Fr Paul Burke and Holy Spirit College for their involvement in this important missionary effort. To be authentically and faithfully Catholic includes supporting authentic ecumenical efforts such as this Common Declaration.
In his address to the members of the Pontifical Council on the new Evangelization this past week, Pope Benedict XVI told them: "To proclaim Jesus Christ the only Savior of the world seems more complex today than in the past; but our task remains the same as at the dawn of our history. The mission has not changed, just as the enthusiasm and the courage that moved the Apostles and the first disciples must not change. The Holy Spirit who pushed them to open the doors of the Cenacle, making them into evangelizers (cf. Acts 2:1-4), is the same Spirit that moves the Church today in a renewed proclamation of hope to the men of our time."
As we approach the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost, the signing of the "Common Declaration on the Sanctity of Life" is one more sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church in a new missionary age.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Orthodox, Catholic, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Metropolitan Alexios, Fr. George Tsahakis, Fr Paul Burke, Ecumenism, Unity, Common Declaration, Sanctity of Life, Deacon Keith Fournier
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