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  • Fr. Panagiotes Carras
    December 6, 1999 Rocky Mountain News Ken Papaleo/News Staff Photographer The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception made history Sunday by welcoming Greek Orthodox
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 21, 1999
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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.

      Jean Torkelson
      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
      Immaculate Conception.

      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
      like "heretic."

      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,
      Isaiah said.

      Mounting the pulpit, Isaiah faced a handful of his
      own Orthodox
      dignitaries, Catholic priests in purple vestments,
      a long line of
      altar boys and 900 Catholics who rattled the pews
      with welcoming

      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
      us to."

      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
      Christian Church.

      Vatican II's call for ecumenism in the 1960s got
      dialogue going again
      between Orthodoxy, with 223 million followers, and
      Catholicism, with
      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
      authority-stretches back
      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
      understanding that
      Jesus' birth rescued every person from a mandatory
      place in hell.

      "Yet in this festive season we see gross
      contradictions," Isaiah
      continued. "People have become lovers of
      themselves and money. They
      ridicule the Christian faith on TV sitcoms and
      blaspheme Christian
      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
      apostle Peter-.
      "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,
      synagogues, temples
      and mosques throughout the metro area to write
      about them each Monday.

      from the Rocky Mountain News, Monday, December 6,
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