St. John Paul II famously wrote in his encyclical, Ut Unum Sint, “the Church must breathe with her two lungs!” He was referring to the “lungs” of East and West, praying and hoping that someday the Church would be fully united in her rich diversity of rituals and traditions.
In many ways this has already begun to take place, as the Church in recent centuries has sought to repair the damage that was done in the past, healing the division between East and West.
What many Catholics don’t realize is that the Church is very big and diverse, encompassing 23 distinct and unique churches, such as the Byzantine, Maronite and Coptic Rites to name a few.
Pope Francis this month urges us to recognize and appreciate this diversity. He spoke on this topic at a general audience in 2014.
“The most beautiful experience, though, is the discovery of all the different charisms and all the gifts of his Spirit that the Father showers on his Church! This must not be seen as a reason for confusion, for discomfort: they are all gifts that God gives to the Christian community, in order that it may grow in harmony, in the faith and in his love, as one body, the Body of Christ. The same Spirit who bestows this diversity of charisms unites the Church. It is always the same Spirit.”
As we celebrate the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity, may we unite underneath the banner of the Pope and rejoice in the many different ways the Holy Spirit has inspired the Church throughout the centuries.
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)