Colorado Catholics participate in Christian unity endeavors


Posted Thu, Apr 17, 2014

Clear summer day at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City  [photo by Teresa Szabo]

Clear summer day at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City [Photo by Teresa Szabo]

DENVER — Pope Francis has made a lot of news for his apparent changes in the Roman Catholic Church’s attitude on many social issues. Including his stance on same-sex couples and his public apology about clergymen molesting children in the past. More recently he spoke publicly to a group of Pentecostal churches at Kenneth Copeland Ministries and a Pentecostal Bishop named Tony Palmer in the video form encouraging christian unity and reconciliation.

The video was taken with an iPhone and although the precision of the subtitles is not exact the general message is clear. Pope Francis spoke in Italian to the audience he thanked them for allowing him speak in what he said was, “the language of the heart.”  The message was strong enough to have gained significant attention through out the Pentecostal church and the Catholic Church. The new call for unity was spoken about as a “miracle” by the pope, “the miracle of unity has begun.”

Are they really that different?

Denver Priest Cliff McMillan is generally optimistic about the current relations between church goers of different denominations in Colorado with one notable exception. The Jehovah’s Witness has what Fr. McMillan discussed as a sad doctrinal differences that do not enhance unity between denominations. He said, Jehovah’s Witness, “absolutely forbid their membership to enter into a Catholic Church. And the sad part about that is I’ve had a couple of occasions where I’ve had a funeral, and maybe members of the family of the deceased— the deceased is catholic, and some member of the family of the deceased are Jehovah’s Witness and they wouldn’t attend their own relative’s funeral.”

Where is all began

Many catholics who have followed the popes in the past know that this call is nothing new. The previous Pope Benedict XVI was a papal nuncio, sort of like an ambassador for the Catholic Church in an eastern block country. During that time he was deeply involved with the dialogues involving his church. In addition to that, Benedict successfully invited patriarchs from many other churches to visit the Vatican and pray together. Perhaps even more notably he met with the bishop of Constantinople, who is a patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church. The split between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church known as the Great Schism, which happened in 1054 and was the first spilt

Pope Benedict XVI gives a speech in the Vatican in 2012 [photo by Teresa Szabo]

Pope Benedict XVI gives a speech in the Vatican in 2012 [Photo by Teresa Szabo]

that christianity had seen. In 1959, Vatican II began Catholic and Lutheran dialogues which are still going on today.

How Colorado helps

The differences in doctrinal beliefs are still prevalent and for that reason Fr. McMillan has his doubts that there will be many changes in the near future. For now, the heads of the churches throughout Colorado already do meet together in what is known as a clergy association. There, the pastors and priests of different sects come together once every month or two to discus their parishes over lunch. Once a year they put together a service the Wednesday before Thanksgiving inviting members of churches from different denominations to come together. The clergy association is by no means a new thing, it was already well established when Fr. McMillan first became an ordained priest 24 years ago.


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About Mia Szabo

Mia Szabo is a Denver-Area Freelance Writer

View all posts by Mia Szabo

One Response to “Colorado Catholics participate in Christian unity endeavors”

  1. Melanie J. Rice Says:

    Nice story, Mia. Perhaps it would be nice to include a link to learn more about protestant Christianity, too.


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