The Unity of the Church

Last year’s post on SS John Fisher and Thomas More, which you can read here, looked at the way in which both men came to understand the choices they needed to make. The question posed by the King’s matter was complex, but ultimately it was the saints’ sense of the unity of the Church which won out. I wonder whether we today are as clear, or brave, as they.

We talk a great deal about Church unity, but it doesn’t stop us sniping at one another. The only difference is that, whereas in Reformation times it tended to be Catholics, Lutherans and Protestants of various kinds taking pop shots at one another, nowadays the fighting is just as likely to be going on within our denominations. For me, one of the saddest things is to see the vitriolic infighting among Catholics. It even affects us here in the monastery. We are accused by some traditionalists of being too liberal, and by some liberals of being too traditionalist. If we value the work of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI we cannot be wholly ‘for’ Pope Francis; if we welcome Pope Francis as the man God has chosen to lead his Church now, we cannot be wholly ‘for’ Pope Benedict. Sometimes I am tempted to reply, ‘A pox on both your houses!’ Or at any rate to quote St Paul, ‘I am for Christ!’ For, of course, the Church is bigger than any party or division within it. I suspect the problem for many is that we don’t necessarily share their views, which must make us suspect, mustn’t it? The fact that those views are formed after much reading and prayer is irrelevant. The fact that I make a profession of faith as religious superior is irrelevant. Sentire cum ecclesia is what matters; and I hope and pray that the community here will always do that.

So, as we celebrate today’s feast, I have a question I address principally to my Catholic readers.  SS John and Thomas died for the unity of the Church. Are we prepared to live for it?