Orthodox Christians from Baltimore visit Vatican, seek unity

RELIGION NOTES

June 30, 1995|By Reported by Frank P. L. Somerville

Eighteen members of Baltimore's Orthodox Christian community were in the Vatican congregation yesterday as leaders of the world's Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches joined Pope John Paul II to pray for an end to 1,000 years of conflict between the two major faiths.

The Rev. Constantine M. Monios, dean of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, led 17 Baltimore pilgrims to the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at which white-bearded Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I declared that Christian disunity is "one of the beasts" still afflicting mankind.

Patriarch Bartholomew is the Eastern church leader called "first among equals."

Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler also was in Rome for the historic occasion.

The solemn Mass in St. Peter's was the culmination of a three-day visit with John Paul by Patriarch Bartholomew. He is only the third Orthodox church leader of his rank to join a pope under the same roof since the Great Schism of 1054. Then, the Catholic-Orthodox split over theological questions was sealed by mutual excommunications.

The meeting has been one of a very few in Christian history between two churchmen who each has the title of "Holiness."

Despite many shared beliefs and customs, ecclesiastical divisions run deep between the Orthodox and the Catholics, especially over the power of the papacy.

Yesterday's joint pledge by Pope John Paul and the Orthodox Patriarch to work for improved relations between the 950 million Roman Catholics and the 150 million Orthodox Christians included an appeal for peace in the former Yugoslavia.

Although the two churches nullified the excommunications in 1971, seven years after Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras embraced on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, the churches' recognition of each other's sacraments has not yet occurred.

The decline of communism, the breakup of the former Soviet Union and the war in Bosnia have exacerbated rivalries between the faiths.

In the United States, both Father Monios and Cardinal Keeler are considered leaders of ecumenical efforts between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics. The Baltimore group led by Father Monios flew to Europe Monday. They were to visit churches and other Christian sites in Turkey and Italy before their return July 9.

Mocko reelected:

The Rev. George Paul Mocko has been reelected to a second term as bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Voting members at an assembly June 15 to 17 in Westminster reelected 61-year-old Bishop Mocko on a third ballot, after 61 pastors were nominated. The 190 congregations affiliated with the two-state synod have about 98,000 members.

The top seven vote-getters on the second ballot, including Bishop Mocko, were the Rev. Donald Keyser of Good Shepherd Church in Bel Air; the Rev. Edward Heim of the Lutheran Office on Public Policy; the Rev. Jane O'Hara Shields of Hope Church in New Castle, Del.; the Rev. Raymond Scheck of the Church of the Redeemer in Damascus; the Rev. Lawrence Cameron of Grace Church in Lutherville, and the Rev. John Sabatelli of Christ Church near Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

With 300 votes needed on the third ballot, Bishop Mocko received 302. Information: 825-9520.

New pastor:

An 11 a.m. consecration service Sunday at Emmanuel Christian Community Church, 1210 W. Lanvale St., will begin a week-long celebration of the installation of the Rev. Durant K. Harvin III as pastor. Also being celebrated is the congregation's 61st anniversary.

The week of events at Emmanuel will conclude with a 4 p.m. service July 9, when Archbishop George Augustus Stallings of Imani Cathedral in Washington will preach. Archbishop Stallings is a former priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Washington who founded his own African-American denomination. Information: 523-6526.

New location:

The Baltimore Ethical Society, a branch of the ethical culture movement whose adherents believe their chief aim should be creation of a more humane society, has moved to the southeast corner of Calvert Street and Mount Royal Avenue. Information: 581-2322.

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