Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/3/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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

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

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/3/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Orthodox, Catholic, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Metropolitan Alexios, Fr. George Tsahakis, Fr Paul Burke, Ecumenism, Unity, Common Declaration, Sanctity of Life, Deacon Keith Fournier


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 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.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

Disaffected Colorado teenager who tried to join ISIS gets four years in prison Watch

Image of After serving four years in prison, 19-year-old Shannon Conley must spend three years of supervised release and serve community service.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Poor choices made in youthful hast have consequences. Nineteen-year-old Shannon Conley, from Colorado has been sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to join Islamic State. At the heart of this disturbing story is an Internet romance that went ... continue reading


Coin collectors of the world eagerly line up to see 1822 Half Eagle at convention Watch

Image of Historically, nearly 18,000 of the $5 pieces were minted in 1822. As the concentration of gold was lowered in coins after 1834, most of the earlier coins were melted down for gold.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

One of the rarest coins in the U.S., the 1822 Half Eagle, originally worth only $5, will make its first public appearance in more than three decades in Long Beach this weekend. There are only three of the coins known still in existence. The coin will go on ... continue reading


California's Kern County declares state of FISCAL EMERGENCY with plunging gas prices Watch

Image of Supervisors adopted a plan to immediately begin scaling back county spending rather than making deep reductions all at once in July.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Kern County, in central California, relies heavily on its petroleum industry for tax revenues. While motorists nationwide are currently enjoying lower gas prices, this spells certain disaster for the County of Kern - officials there have declared a fiscal ... continue reading


Could terrorists attempt to attack the White House with a drone? Crash sparks debate over future use of drones in war Watch

Image of A small, four propeller drone, crashed on the White House lawn, spurring a discussion on whether drones may be used by terrorist groups in the future.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A two-foot-long, four propeller drone crashed onto the White House grounds yesterday, raising troubling questions that drones could be utilized by terrorists or other potential murderers to attack the White House or other U.S. government institutions that have ... continue reading


The Thrill of the Chaste: Matt C. Abbott Interviews Dawn Eden Watch

Image of Dawn Eden, author of the highly-acclaimed My Peace I Give You and the Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste

By Matt C. Abbott

Being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and receiving Jesus' own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, has given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of being embodied. I see more clearly how chastity enables one to love fully in each relationship, in the ... continue reading


GOP teams up with Israeli prime minister to forcefully override Obama's Iran policy Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Speaker John Boehner is seeking to enlist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support a congressional plan to override President Obama's Iran policy on March 3. Boehner hopes to bring Netanyahu to a joint session of the House and Senate. Boehner ... continue reading


The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... continue reading


Caught in the act: Telephone scammers get comeuppance from plucky woman Watch

Image of Becoming pro-active, Rachel Fitzsimmons decided to take action in an effort to spread awareness so that others do not fall for the swindle.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Telephone solicitors threatening phony legal action are the bane of many people's existence. They typically prey upon "old-timers" who still have landlines in their homes and are home in the evenings. Rachel Fitzsimmons, of Denver, Colorado received such a call ... continue reading


Is Israel beholden to Obama? Should the president be able to hold the American people hostage via threat of veto? Republicans and Israeli prime minister say no! Watch

Image of Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak before a joint session of Congress on March 3 about keeping nuclear capabilities out of the hands of Iran.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On March 3, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before the a joint session of the U.S. Congress, a move which is as much a show of support for Israel from the Republican dominated legislature as it is a rebuff of President Obama. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:19-25
19 We have then, brothers, complete confidence ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:21-25
21 He also said to them, 'Is a lamp brought in to be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 29th, 2015 Image

Sts. Sarbelius & Barbea
January 29: Two martyrs, brother and sister, who were put to death at Edessa ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter