Pope Francis: Divisions Among Christians Create ‘Fertile Ground’ for War

Pope Francis: Divisions Among Christians Create ‘Fertile Ground’ for War

ROME — Pope Francis urged Christians on Friday to renew efforts toward unity, since divisions among Christians frequently generate dangerous conflicts, as the Russia-Ukraine war illustrates.

“And on this issue, I would like to emphasize that today, for a Christian, it is not possible or practicable to go alone with one’s own denomination,” the pope told members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. “Either we go together, all the fraternal denominations, or we do not go ahead at all.”

In today’s world “one cannot think of journeying on the path of faith without the company of brothers and sisters from other Churches of ecclesial communities. And this is a great thing. Alone, never. We cannot do it,” he declared.

The pontiff went on to link Christian divisions to conflicts and wars, and specifically to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“In some countries there are certain egocentric revivals – so to speak – of certain Christian communities that either go backwards, or cannot advance,” he asserted. Today, “either we all walk together or we do not walk.”

Pope Francis appealed to Christians on Sunday to avoid gossiping about others, which he called “a plague worse than COVID.” https://t.co/63Apk61BjF

— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 6, 2020

The war currently underway in Ukraine is a “tragic challenge” that is “cruel and senseless like every war,” Francis said, and yet it has “a greater dimension and threatens the entire world, and cannot but question the conscience of every Christian and every Church.”

Awareness that the scandal of the division among Christians had “historic relevance in generating the evil that poisoned the world with grief and injustice” moved Christians of the last century to seek unity, the pope said, and today, “faced with the barbarism of war, this longing for unity must once again be nurtured.”

“Ignoring the divisions between Christians, out of habit or resignation, means tolerating that contamination of hearts that creates fertile ground for conflicts,” he declared. “The proclamation of the gospel of peace, that gospel that disarms hearts even before armies, will be more credible only if it is announced by Christians who are finally reconciled in Jesus, Prince of peace.”

In his address, the pope also underscored the importance of the upcoming celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the First Council of Nicaea, which will take place in 2025.

“The style and the decisions of the Council of Nicaea should enlighten the current ecumenical journey and lead to practical steps towards the full reestablishment of Christian unity,” he said.

It is true that theological work is very important, he added, “but we cannot wait for theologians to agree before we embark on the path of unity.”

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Thomas D. Williams Ph.D.