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Monday, February 15, 2016

Pope and Patriarch: Two lungs, one Body

(Public Domain)
The Great Schism of 1054 was long in the making.  East and West had been drifting from one another for years, both administratively and theologically.

There were disagreements about papal preeminence, about clerical celibacy, about types of Eucharist bread, and about “the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father or from the Father and the Son.”

In 1054, this longstanding tension culminated in mutual excommunications between Pope Leo IX of Rome and Patriarch Michael Cerularius of
Constantinople. explains that these “excommunications were not lifted until 1965, when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras [of Constantinople]… presided over simultaneous ceremonies that revoked the excommunication decrees.”

Another historic meeting occurred just this week when Pope Francis met with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.  This is the very first time that a Roman Catholic Pope has met with a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. 

Although rife with political overtones, their meeting may nevertheless open the door to improved East-West relations.  And who knows?  As John Paul II famously envisioned, the Church may one day “breathe with her two lungs.”


Copyright February 15, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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