The Heads of the Catholic Church and of the Russian Orthodox church met in Cuba and in a 30-point declaration reaffirmed their commitment to Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
The declaration makes direct reference among others to three areas of mutual concern. First, it expresses concern about “threats to the inalienable right to life, to the family, to the marriage”. They also condemn the spread of euthanasia practices that cause people to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general. Finally, they proclaim their opposition to certain aspects of the use of Biomedical reproduction technology which is presented on a manipulation of human life.
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Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill Call for Respect for the Inalienable Right to Life
Friday, February 12, 2016
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met today in Cuba in an historic first meeting between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches since 1054 when the "Great Schism" began. The religious leaders issued a joint declaration that declared, "It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another "to speak face to face" (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization."
The 30 point declaration discussed past history and faith while looking at the challenges of the contemporary world and the need for the Church to respond stating, "Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response."
Three areas of mutual concern listed in the declaration are ones that pro-life and pro-family organizations engage on a daily basis-- threats to the inalienable right to life, to the family, and to marriage. In regards to abortion, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill exhorted, "We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10)."
They raised concern over the emergence of "so-called euthanasia" which they stated, "leads elderly people and the disabled... to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general."
Biomedical reproduction technology was presented as "the manipulation of human life" with the religious leaders stating that it "represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God."
The three sections on family, marriage and respect for life follow:
19. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.
20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.
21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10). The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general. We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator's plan.
The joint declaration began by stating their pressing mutual concern for the religious persecution of Christians in the world today:
"Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities."
PNCI is thankful for the Declaration by Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill which recognizes the challenges to life, marriage and family that confront our world today and the need for a united response. May their words help to unite efforts around the world among people of all religious faiths.