Cardinal Kasper said recently that Christian unity “is not an option, it is a duty to Our Lord.”
He made the comment in a homily during a joint celebration of the Feast of the Apostle St. Andrew with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I November 30th.
Both the Patriarch and the Cardinal indicated that the social, political, and economic crisis of our day can be answered by re-establishing the millennium-long split between the Eastern and Western Churches.
This reminds me of a Western Lit. teacher I had in (public) high school, who planted the first seed of a desire for Christian unity in my heart. During one class, she told us about the Great Schism of 1054, drew a simple map of the world on the chalk board, and said, circling a big chunk of the western world, “The Catholic Church has this.” Circling a chunk of the eastern side of the map, she said, “The Orthodox Church has this.” She then said, “Imagine what influence they would have in the world if they reunited.”
Looking back, I think that she may have been a closet Christian – even a Catholic. One time, she came into class with a tee-shirt that said
“God is dead.” -Nietzsche
“Nietzsche is dead.” -God
Although Nietzsche’s thought, strangely, can in some ways be used as an ally in to the Christian cause in the world today, we can certainly include him among the many voices, contrary to the Gospel, that vie for the attention of people and lead them astray. If the Catholics and Orthodox re-united, imagine what influence they could have in the world! Perhaps then, through the abundant grace of unity showering down upon the world, the Church, east and west, could eventually in truth say together, “War is dead! Atheist ideology is dead! Nihilism is dead! The Culture of Death is dead!”
Ok, maybe that kind of sweeping victory is reserved for the Second Coming. But without a doubt, such a reunion would create a spiritual revolution. That such disunity ever occurred was a disaster – that the Church, forever One, could ever be wounded in this way is as mysterious as is sin. As Patriarch Bartholomew said: “One cannot think of Peter and Andrew as separated.”
Let it be established clearly in the hearts and minds of all Catholics and Orthodox: unity is not an option, it is a duty to Our Lord.