Is the Church Sewing Up Her Schisms?
Probably not. But Pope Francis is helping pull the Christian fabric together.


Photo: Reuters / Osservatore Romano



In a meeting yesterday, newly minted Pope Francis met with Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew at the Vatican. It was the first time a Patriarch of Constantinople had attended a papal enthronement since the Great Schism of 1054.

While their double-pontiff hug doesn't herald the healing of the divided Christian church (a prospect that seems impossible in any scenario short of the eschaton), it does highlight a surge in ecumenical hope that's been encouraged by the new pope.

Francis has received unusually enthusiastic support from church leaders and organizations outside the RCC. Besides the Orthodox, protestant representatives of Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and other denominations have expressed their pleasure at the new pontiff's appointment. (Ur's covered this before.)

Evangelicals are relieved by his commitment to conservative doctrine, mainline/liberal Christians appreciate his devotion to social issues and emphasis on environmental stewardship, and everyone likes his posture of humility and pastoral focus. It seems that we all can find something to love in the new Vatican.

In his address yesterday to a gathering of non-catholic leaders, Francis said

Yesterday morning, during the Mass, through you, I recognized the communities you represent. In this manifestation of faith, I had the feeling of taking part in an even more urgent fashion the prayer for the unity of all believers in Christ, and together to see somehow prefigured the full realization of full unity which depends on God's plan and on our own loyal collaboration.

What do you think? Are we entering a fresh era of Christian unity?

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March 21, 2013

Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments

Nathan

March 21, 2013  3:19pm

Evangelicals are "relieved" because of his conservative theology? How do we know this? And if it's true, why would they be relieved unless they actually don't understand how the papacy works with respect to previously promulgated doctrine?

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Frank Ritchie

March 21, 2013  2:15pm

It would be great to see a fresh era of increased unity across the Christian family emerge. Sadly I think there are many people whose identities are formed around the division and a critical perspective of others in the family of Jesus. There are some who would see the emergence of Christian unity as a signal of some sort of apocalyptic end game. I pray that the voices of unity are the ones that have influence over and above those who would be divisive.

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Adam Shields

March 21, 2013  12:07pm

I would love it to be the case. But if it is, it probably won't be lead by US evangelicals and many US evangelicals will probably not like it.

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