Pope Francis has appointed Enzo Bianchi the prior of the new ecumenical monastic community of Bose in Italy to join the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. For those who are unfamiliar, the community of Bose is one of the new ecclesial movements in the church. Like the community at Taize, it is composed of both Catholic and non-Catholic Christians. Some members are Protestant and Eastern Orthodox.
This article reports on Enzo Bianhi’s appointment. He believes Pope Francis will bring a new direction to papal authority, enhancing it with a more synodical approach, which will be endorsed by the Eastern Orthodox.
A reform of the papacy means “a new balance between synodality and supremacy. The Orthodox Church exercise synodality not supremacy, we Catholics have papal supremacy but we lack synodality. There can be no synodality without supremacy and there can be no supremacy without synodality. This would help create a new style of papal primacy and episcopal government.”
Bianchi also observed that there are no divisions in the church when true persecution erupts.The Prior of Bose reiterated the importance of an ecumenism of the blood, which Pope Francis had stressed: “I am thinking of the Christians in Iraq and Syria: never before have there been as many martyrs as today and they are Christians of all denominations. The blood of all Christians is united beyond theological and dogmatic decisions.” He echoes the Baptist pastor Richard Wurmbrand who recounted in his classic book,Tortured for Christ that when he was imprisoned and tortured under the communist regime in Romania there were no Eastern Orthodox, Protestants or Catholics in prison. There were only brothers and sisters.
Does Bianchi predict a coming persecution of Christians? This from the community’s website:
The community is also aware that the life of those who let themselves be immersed in the waters of baptism is truly already “buried with (Christ) through baptism into death” (Rom. 6:4) and “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). We were reminded of this recently by the news of an experience of martyrdom – a possibility in Christian life that we thought was lost somewhere in the recesses of memory, but that has in fact reappeared on the horizon of Christianity. The life of the baptized Christian has already been given to God and to those with whom we live in the world, as Fr. Christian de Chergé, prior of the Trappist community of Atlas in Algeria, wrote in his spiritual testament several months before he and the brothers of his community were killed.
No one wishes for persecution to come to the church, but we in the developed world must realize that it is already a reality. Not only in Northern Iraq and Syria, but in Nigeria, Sudan across the Muslim world and the Far East our Christian brothers and sisters face many different kinds of persecution even now. John Allens’The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution recounts in detail the current attack on the faith across the globe.
The reality of persecution not only casts the subject of ecumenism in a new light but suddenly all the petty quarrels Catholics have among themselves and with other Christians fade away. Persecution sharpens the awareness and focusses one’s mind on the true priorities. In prison I doubt if people will quibble about which liturgy to use or which music they should sing. In prison I don’t suppose people will fuss about whether a brother or sister has worked out every detail of their theology or upheld every line of canon law.
There will be other things to think about.