Tuesday, January 27, 2009

East Meets West

There has been a lot of controversy regarding the recent lifting of the excommunication of several bishops from the Society of Saint Pius X, primarily because one of the bishops turned out to be a Holocaust denier.

Needless to say, I am not thrilled to welcome this man back into the Catholic Church. His views are, of course, despicable but I am going to withhold judgment until Pope Benedict responds to the controversy. The Catholic Church has always dealt strongly with the Society while also making attempts to reconcile, and I hope and have faith that in this instance the Church will immediately voice its opposition to the antisemitism that seems to be a disturbingly common thread in the Society of Saint Pius X.

But the point of my post is not to focus on that aspect of the controversy, but to take a look at the interesting role this event plays in the history of the Catholic Church. Although the Society of Saint Pius has not been around that long, they did break with the Catholic Church and marked a rupture in the faith. The Catholic Church has spent a great deal of time trying both to stand its ground, but also try to embrace these Catholics back into the fold. I believe the lifting of these bishops' excommunications by the Pope indicate his willingness to work with other Christian denominations and unify all Christians.

On a related note, a new leader of the Russian Orthodox Church was elected today. He has been head of the external relations department for the Russian Orthodox Church making him a point man for ties with the Catholic Church.

What a miracle it would be if in our lifetimes, nearly a millennium after the East-West schism in the Catholic church, we were to unify again with our brothers and sisters in the faith.

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