By Bishop Kevin J. Farrell
Pope Francis in a recent catechesis addressed the disunity among Catholics reminding us that selfishness and division in the Church is not only affecting the communion and unity of the Body of Christ, it is an obstacle to the unity of all Christians.
Speaking extemporaneously the Holy Father said: “How much damage is caused to the Church by divisions among Christians, by being apart, by narrow interests! The divisions among us,” he continued, “but also the divisions between the communities: evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, why are we divided? We must try to bring unity. … We must pray together as Catholics and also with other Christians, must pray that the Lord grant us unity, unity between us. But how will we have unity among Christians if we aren’t capable of having it among us Catholics, of having it in our family? How many families fight and are divided! Seek unity, the unity that makes the Church. Unity comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to create unity.”
t is so easy to forget that the Church is the Body of Christ and not simply an organization that can be shaped to suit the preferences of the members. The problem is not a new one. St. Paul addressed the issue in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:17ff) when divisions among Christians even disrupted the Lord’s Supper.
In his remarks, the Pope observed “Unity is always greater than conflict. Conflicts, if they aren’t resolved well, separate us from one another, separate us from God. Conflict can help us grow but it can also divide us. Let’s not take the path of division and struggle between one another. All unite; all unite with our differences but always united: this is Jesus’ path.”
Let us remember the words of Pope John XXIII in the encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram, “Unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things.”