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The Holy Spirit is bringing us together,
May 21, 2008, St. Louis, Mo. – In the very recent past, Catholics and Protestants "hardly spoke to one another, at least about religious matters," the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA told 56 graduates of Aquinas Institute of Theology here earlier this month.
"Surely, it is a sign of the Holy Spirit that things have changed so dramatically in such a brief span," The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon said.
Kinnamon, until recently a professor at neighboring Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, was awarded the honorary doctor of humane letters degree by Aquinas President, the Rev. Dr. Richard Peddicord, O.P.
A sign of the changing times was a recent prayer service for ecumenical leaders hosted by Pope Benedict XVI in New York, Kinnamon told the graduates.
"Thanks to the wisdom of the planners or the Holy Spirit, I found myself seated next to Pat Robertson – who, to let you in on a secret, is not my favorite theologian," he said.
"But do I get to deny that he is my brother in Christ, any more than Pope Benedict can deny that I am his? I might wish that God would be more discriminating, but there it is – bound to one another by a love far greater than our disagreements."
Kinnamon, an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), quoted a favored saying in his denomination: "We are Christians only, but not the only Christians."
He added: "Perhaps today we can say: we are God's children only, but we are not God's only children."
Aquinas Institute of Theology, a Dominican sponsored school, prepares candidates for the priesthood alongside vowed religious, laypeople pursuing careers in ministry and those who simply seek a richer faith life. While most students are Catholic, the school welcomes all men and women of good will. Students represent communities that stretch from coast to coast; others come from as far away as Africa and South America.
Commencement ceremonies took place May 9 in St. Louis University's College Church.
Photos by Aquinas Institute of Theology
For up-to-date information on the National Council of Churches, see www.ncccusa.org
NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228, NCCnews@ncccusa.org