Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

6/29/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Francis, in a bold, deliberate, prophetic and loving sign, is now showing us the way to walk the talk.

Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity. Let me tell you something, today, before leaving home, I spent 40 minutes more or less, half an hour, with an evangelical pastor. And we prayed together, seeking unity.But we Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics, in the family, how many families fight and split up? Seek unity, unity builds the Church and comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build unity! - Pope Francis

With his clear and courageous commitment to unity, Francis steps right into the trajectory of his two predecessors, Saint John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict XVI. The sincerity of his quest for healing the divisions between Christians is expressed in both word and deed. The comfortable way in which he shared from his heart that he had prayed with an evangelical Protestant pastor right before giving his Wednesday Instruction was naturally supernatural, as it should be with everyone of us as we reach out to other Christians with the love of Jesus Christ.

With his clear and courageous commitment to unity, Francis steps right into the trajectory of his two predecessors, Saint John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict XVI. The sincerity of his quest for healing the divisions between Christians is expressed in both word and deed. The comfortable way in which he shared from his heart that he had prayed with an evangelical Protestant pastor right before giving his Wednesday Instruction was naturally supernatural, as it should be with everyone of us as we reach out to other Christians with the love of Jesus Christ.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/29/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Ut Unum Sint, Christian unity, ecumenism, May They Be One, John 17, James Robison, spiritual ecumenism, St John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict, Pope Francis, Deacon Keith Fournier


BRONX, NY (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, June 27, 2014, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, I published an extraordinary account of a meeting at the Vatican between Pope Francis and Evangelical Christian leaders, which included my friend, James Robison.

Fr Randy Sly wrote an excellent piece for Catholic Online concerning a greeting which Pope Francis sent to a meeting of evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal Protestant Christians in the United States.

This is all a part of a pattern.

This Pope is dedicated  to helping to heal the divisions in the broken Body of Christ. He is also encouraging courageous efforts at Christian cooperation.  He has raised the water level in this priority, for the whole Catholic Church, by bringing his lived experience in Argentina, along with his unique palate of gifts, to the office of Successor of Peter at a prophetic moment in history.

In a teaching on the Church as the Body of Christ, given during his Wednesday audience of June 19, 2013, Pope Francis made an extemporaneous comment which revealed what his life work has revealed for years. Throughout his service as Priest, Father, Bishop and Cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, this simple and holy man of God, has heard the passionate Prayer of Jesus Christ and made it his own:

"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17:21) 

Here are a few of those heartfelt words from his March message:

"Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity. Let me tell you something, today, before leaving home, I spent 40 minutes more or less, half an hour, with an evangelical pastor. And we prayed together, seeking unity."

"But we Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics, in the family, how many families fight and split up? Seek unity, unity builds the Church and comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build unity!"

With this kind of clear and courageous commitment to unity, Francis steps right into the trajectory of his two predecessors, Saint John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict XVI.

The sincerity of his quest for healing the divisions between Christians is expressed in both word and his deed. The comfortable way in which he shared from his heart that he had prayed with an evangelical Protestant pastor right before giving his Wednesday Instruction was naturally supernatural, as it should be with everyone of us as we reach out to other Christians with the love of Jesus Christ.

I have spent years praying and working with evangelical protestants and orthodox Christians, co- laboring in the trenches of the culture on the great challenges of our neo-pagan, or better yet, what I prefer to call pre-Christian, age. I am so very happy to have Pope Francis make it clear that this is part of our task, our call and our mission. 

For those who have followed the selection of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope, this will come as no surprise. One of his evangelical friends from Argentina, protestant evangelist Luis Palau, was straightforward and enthusiastic about his friendship and prayer with Francis.

His interview with Christianity Today, given the day after the Pope was selected, is well worth the read for anyone wondering where the Pope is headed as he steps into this trajectory of his predecessors and responds to the imperative of healing the divisions among Christians.

A wonderful emerging scholar and leader among evangelical Protestants in the United States, Timothy George, the  Dean of Beeson Divinity School, wrote a piece for the same publication which is a must read. It is entitled, Our Francis, Too: Why we can enthusiastically join arms with the Catholic leader.

George wrote: "Francis succeeds two men of genius in his papal role. John Paul II was the liberator who stared down communism by the force of his courage and prayers. Benedict XVI was the eminent teacher of the Catholic Church in recent history. Francis appears now as the pastor, a shepherd who knows and loves his sheep and wants to lead them in love and humility. The new Franciscan moment is the season of the shepherd. Catholics and evangelicals are the two largest faith communities in the body of Christ. Without forgetting the deep differences that divide us, now as never before we are called to stand and work together for the cause of Christ in a broken world."

On March 20, 2013, Pope Francis spoke these words to delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West:

"Let us all be intimately united to our Savior's prayer at the Last Supper, to his invocation: ut unum sint. We call on the merciful Father to be able to fully live the faith that we have received as a gift on the day of our Baptism, and to be able to it free, joyful and courageous testimony. The more we are faithful to his will, in thoughts, in words and in deeds, the more we will truly and substantially walk towards unity."

The Gospel proclaims that in and through Jesus Christ, authentic unity with God - and through Him, in the Spirit, with one another- is the plan of God for the entire human race. The Church is the way to that unity. For the Church to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus effectively, she must be one. It was not the Lord's plan that she be divided. It is His Plan that she be restored to full communion. We are invited to become a part of that plan.

I am one of many who often called Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI the Pope of Christian Unity. He placed the full communion of the Church at the forefront of his Papacy. This was clear in his overtures toward our Orthodox brethren, whom we recognize as a Church and whose priesthood and Sacraments we recognize. It was evident in his outreach to the separated Christians of the Reformation communities of the West.

On the 4th anniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II, Benedict reminded us of John Paul's passionate commitment to the full communion of the Church. That teaching is summarized in the Encyclical Letter "May they be One" (Ut Unum Sint). In that letter, St. John Paul signaled the way forward. To be Catholic is to enter into the prayer of Jesus for the Unity of His Church, and to make it our own, in word and deed. 

In Benedict XVI's first message as the successor of Peter he signaled his commitment to this unity: "Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration. "

"Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Lk 22: 32). With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."

Catholic teaching on the nature of the Church is rooted in an ecclesiology of communion. Ecclesiology is the theology of the church. All who are validly Baptized already already have a form of communion, albeit incomplete. We are invited to make the prayer of Jesus for full communion and visible unity our own - in the way that we relate to other Christians. We need to show the love so evident in the words and witness of Benedict, John Paul and Francis.

We should also learn - and then use - the language of communion which the Catholic Church now so clearly encourages. St . John Paul II wrote in that extraordinary encyclical letter on unity:

"It happens for example that, in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Christians of one confession no longer consider other Christians as enemies or strangers but see them as brothers and sisters."

"Again, the very expression "separated brethren" tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion linked to the baptismal character which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions."

"Today we speak of "other Christians", "others who have received Baptism", and "Christians of other Communities".

The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism refers to the Communities to which these Christians belong as "Churches and Ecclesial Communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. The broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes" There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ."

John Paul also wrote concerning the urgency of building good relationships with other Christians:

"Relations between Christians are not aimed merely at mutual knowledge, common prayer and dialog. They presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical cooperation at all levels: pastoral, cultural and social, as well as that of witnessing to the Gospel message. Cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant".

"This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself. Moreover, ecumenical cooperation is a true school of ecumenism, a dynamic road to unity. Unity of action leads to the full unity of faith: "Through such cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn easily how they can understand each other better and esteem each other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians may be made smooth. In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common Christian witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved." 

Catholics have an obligation to work toward authentic Christian unity. There is an adage in the Gospels which has application in this arena, "To those to whom much is given, much more will be required" (Luke 12:48). Yet, on of the most difficult obstacles in making progress toward the visible unity of the Church is the reticence of some Catholics to accept the leadership of the Magisterium, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the clear teaching of the Catholic Church on its priority. Pope Francis, in a bold, deliberate, prophetic and loving sign, is now showing us the way to walk the talk.

Let us take our lead from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These paragraphs are found in the section entitled "Wounds to Unity":

"817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism - do not occur without human sin: Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."

820 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time." Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may know that you have sent me." The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit."


Let us pray and work with all of our hearts for the healing of divisions among Christians and the full communion of the whole Christian Church. Let us pray for Pope Francis as he leads us along the the way. Let us follow his example. May They Be One!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More U.S.

Corpus Christi, The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Watch

Image of There is also an ancient and beautiful custom in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church called the Corpus Christi procession. The consecrated Host, the Body of the Lord, is reposed in what is called a monstrance. The term is derived from a Latin phrase which means to show or reveal.  The faithful process the Body of the Lord through the streets surrounding their church buildings. This Eucharistic procession can be a powerful witness to an age which has lost its sense of the sacred.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We have received the Bread of Heaven. Let us choose to become what we consume. These Feasts are not just rituals on a Church calendar. They are invitations to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ, and then offer Him to a world waiting to be born anew. On this Feast of ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Have Given Their Lives in Military Service Watch

Image of Memorial Day

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I live in Chesapeake, a wonderful city in Southeastern Virginia where there are many members of the military. The parish I serve is an example of this. Every day, I witness the many sacrifices which military families make for our Nation. On this Memorial Day, I ... continue reading


$3,600,000,000,000: the price to repair America Watch

Image of America's infrastructure is in need of improvement. Why isn't this a national priority?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

We have money for perpetual war and can afford generous foreign aid, tax subsidies and cuts for the wealthy, but we cannot find the money to fix a pothole or repair a collapsing bridge. This is the sorry state of affairs U.S. infrastructure is in as we let the nation ... continue reading


Violent riot erupts at Trump rally in New Mexico Watch

Image of Unsurprisingly, a Trump rally erupted into a riot in New Mexico (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Protesters at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's New Mexico rally erupted in violent acts including the attempted stoning of police, glass bottles thrown at mounted units and their horses, burning shirts and more. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Record-breaking 38,000 illegal aliens apprehended in the month of April Watch

Image of April 2016 reaches new record for illegal alien apprehensions.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Illegal aliens continue to surge into the United States from the Southwest U.S. border, leading the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) units to announce record-breaking apprehensions in April, 2016. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the U.S. ... continue reading


Edward Nero, arresting officer of Freddie Gray, NOT GUILTY. Will Baltimore erupt once more? Watch

Image of Officer Edward Nero arrives at court. Nero has been acquitted of crimes in the death of Freddie Gray.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The arresting officer in the Freddie Gray case, Edward Nero, has been declared "not guilty" by the judge in his criminal trial. Now, the community waits to see if violence will erupt or if the streets will remain quiet. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Officer ... continue reading


Tell Me About the Trinity: Honoring Jerry and Plumbing the Mystery of God Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

'The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone on Father Daniel Berrigan's Pro-Life Activism Watch

Image of Fr. Daniel Berrigan

By Fr Frank Pavone

Father Berrigan was a radical figure who sent a total of almost seven years in prison.  What many don't realize though is that his activism extended beyond the anti-war movement and into the anti-abortion movement. Believing in what he called a consistent ... continue reading


Law allows persons to sue if you don't use the correct pronoun out of 58 to describe a person's sexual identity Watch

Image of We're going to need a lot more restrooms.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Under a new law, businesses in New York will be fined if they don't use a person's preferred pronoun when referring to them. This especially becomes a problem when it is understood there are at least 58 possible pronouns with at least five grammatical variations ... continue reading


Science fiction? Feds discover the 'Grocery List,' post tweets to promote new technology Watch

Image of After millions of dollars in federal spending, government scientists have discovered the grocery list technology. Where would we be without such courageous efforts?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Federal Government has discovered the grocery list technology. This unlock apparently occurred recently as the Department of Agriculture sent encouraging, rapid-fire tweets to the public about how to use this remarkable new advancement. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Have Given Their Lives in Military Service
  • Corpus Christi, The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus
  • St. Maximinus of Trier: Saint of the Day for Sunday, May 29, 2016
  • Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 HD Video
  • Woman diagnosed with 'nightmare bacteria' in US
  • Daily Readings for Sunday, May 29, 2016
  • Advent Prayer HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:41-43
41 'Even the foreigner, not belonging to your people Israel but coming ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 7:1-10
1 When he had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he ... Read More

Reading 2, Galatians 1:1-2, 6-10
1 From Paul, an apostle appointed not by human beings nor through any ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 29th, 2016 Image

St. Maximinus of Trier
May 29: Bishop of Trier, Germany, from 332, and a miracle ... Read More