By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 14, 2015
ATLANTA—Unification of the Catholic and Orthodox churches may depend more on the work believers do in the world than dialogue, said the keynote speaker at an April Catholic-Orthodox prayer service.
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople share a common outlook of the work of the churches as missionary, engaging in new ways to help a fractured world, said Jesuit Father Joseph McShane, president of Fordham University in New York.
Momentum toward church unification has slowed after 50 years of dialogue, but the healing of the division of the churches may be spurred “in the apostolic work that we do for the world,” said Father McShane.
“We will find, discover and affirm and grow our unity in selflessly doing God’s work in our world. That is where we will come to unity,” he said.
Members of the Catholic and Orthodox faith gathered April 28 with their spiritual leaders, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, at the Cathedral of Christ the King for an evening of prayer and song. Father McShane spoke at the spring ecumenical gathering at the Peachtree Road cathedral. Twice-a-year Catholic-Orthodox events began in the archdiocese in 2008.
During his remarks, Father McShane said all Christians are to live as witnesses to the faith, who embrace a “living Gospel” of compassion.
The Greek word for witness is martyr, he said, describing three types of witnesses, red, white and green.
In the headlines today are the “red martyrs” whose blood is shed for the faith, he said. Many Christians are being killed in places where the church has existed for centuries, he said. “White martyrs” are those who give their lives to consecrated religious life and monasticism, he said.
At the same time, all Christians are called to live as “green martyrs,” said Father McShane, with lives of “selflessness and self-discipline lived for God and the pursuit of goodness and the service of others.”
“At the end of the day, it is all about bringing the Gospel to the world, in the midst of the world in which we live and in which God has called us to live. We are called to witness. We are called to witness by lives of generosity.”
Said Father McShane, believers are to live with “conspicuous compassion.”