There are few things in the World that break my heart as much as reading about the tragic moments in the Church’s history that have caused schism. Perhaps the greatest wound the church has endured is the severing of its Eastern and Western lungs, the schism of the East from the West.
For nearly 1,000 years, half of our history, the West has lived divorced from the wisdom of much of the Eastern Church, and Most of the Eastern Churches have lived divorced from the wisdom of the West. The wounds have been tended too, but have never fully healed.
Like Pope Francis, we both breathe with one lung. Francis lost his lung because of a contagion which infected it when he was a teenager. We lost our lung because of contagions as well. The Church fell to contagion of pride. We cut one another off rather than work together. We did not see differences as a gift, but as a challenge. We condemned the eye for not being an ear and the ear for not being an eye, and mutilated the flesh of Christ. This disunity is a grave sin indeed, and one that I pray we may be healed from every day.
This is why I am very excited about the pilgrimage to the Holy Land that Pope Francis (head of the Western Church) begins today with The Ecumenical Patriarchate Bartholomew (spiritual center of the Eastern Orthodox Church). I have a great amount of hope that meetings like these will help to move both east and west closer to reunification. It is my hope and my prayer.