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- December 6, 1999
Rocky Mountain News
Ken Papaleo/News Staff Photographer
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception made
history Sunday by welcoming Greek
Orthodox Metropolitan Isaiah to its pulpit.
How Coloradans Worship
What's a 1,000- year-old chasm between friends?
Perhaps less than ever. Inconceivable even 100
years ago, a
black-robed Metropolitan Isaiah of the Greek
Orthodox Church preached
Sunday in the sun-drenched sanctuary of the
Catholic Cathedral of the
His host, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, a
Potawatomi Indian wearing a
Roman mitre, looked across the sanctuary at his
guest, a bearded
Greek-American wearing a fourth-century eastern
"Brother and friend," Chaput said.
In 1054, a mutual greeting may have sounded more
Welcome to the new millennium. Chaput and Isaiah
had met twice this
year in each other's churches. But Sunday was the
first time either
would take on the powerful role of preacher to the
other's flock. The
way is clear for Chaput to return the honor,
Mounting the pulpit, Isaiah faced a handful of his
dignitaries, Catholic priests in purple vestments,
a long line of
altar boys and 900 Catholics who rattled the pews
But this was no millennial, feel-good exercise,
Chaput said. "We're
here not so much to make history as to understand
the unity God calls
That means the churches must arrive at the truth
not as a negotiable
compromise but as revelation from God.
One thousand years ago, Christianity broke into
its first two big
pieces over a subtle but theologically profound
difference in the
understanding of the Holy Spirit's relationship to
the Father and
Son. The other stumbling block sounds more
familiar - whether God
means the pope to be the ultimate authority of the
Vatican II's call for ecumenism in the 1960s got
dialogue going again
between Orthodoxy, with 223 million followers, and
I billion members. It has intensified with the
pope's call for
Christian unity in Jubilee year 2000.
Still, 1,000 years apart makes for many an
accidental tourist. Seated
near the altar, Isaiah and the Rev. Costas
Pavlakos, dean of the
Assumption Cathedral, did just what Westerners do
when they first see
the stunning Greek dome ablaze with icons: They
kept sneaking peaks
at the ceiling.
"I liked the stained glass," Isaiah said. "It
reminded me of our icons."
The men removed their head-dresses at the
consecration of the bread
and wine, a recognition that the churches share a
belief in the
Eucharist as the true presence of Jesus Christ -
not just a symbol.
Each church also recognizes that the other's
to the apostles.
A long and winding road brought these spiritual
leaders to the same
altar. Chaput is a Kansas kid who grew up above
the family funeral
parlor and leads 340,000 Colorado Catholics.
Isaiah is the son of a
New Hampshire factory worker who leads 10,000
believers in 14 states.
In his sermon, Isaiah traced Christmas joy to the
Jesus' birth rescued every person from a mandatory
place in hell.
"Yet in this festive season we see gross
continued. "People have become lovers of
themselves and money. They
ridicule the Christian faith on TV sitcoms and
dogma in movies. They kill the unborn, treating
some life as sacred
and some not. They have no shame."
Tough stuff. But friends can be blunt. By
coincidence or not, one
Scripture reading contained a famous line from the
"Do not ignore this fact, beloved - that to the
Lord one day is like
1,000 years, and 1,000 years like a day.'
Religion writer Jean Torkelson visits churches,
and mosques throughout the metro area to write
about them each Monday.
from the Rocky Mountain News, Monday, December 6,