If you follow Church stuff, you know that things have pretty much gone crazy in the last few days. Most dramatically, of course, you have the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops, and all the subsequent drama after one of those bishops who gave a spectacularly ill-timed interview downplaying the Holocaust (not that there’s a good time!). Or perhaps, if the goal was disruption of the steps toward reunification, it was well-timed.
All that is important, but the swiftness with which that bishop’s remarks were smacked down not only by the Holy Father but by the leader of the SSPX and other key members is worth noting. I’m not someone who follows those traditionalist groups all that closely, but from what I can gather, after years of sort of status quo, things seem to be moving at an astonishing speed. Father Z and the New Liturgical Movement are among the more straightforward blogs covering this. This most recent post is very interesting, as is this one.
Again, it’s really hard to overstate how quickly these things are moving, after decades when all seemed locked.
But that’s not all. Yesterday, you had the election of Metropolitan Kirill to be the next Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. By all accounts, he is someone committed to Orthodox identity and confession but also to dialogue with the Catholic Church. His election is seen as a great step forward for Catholic-Orthodox relations.
And that’s still not all. News came today that the Traditional Anglican Communion, a group of 400,000 Anglicans that has requested full union with the Catholic Church, may get their wish with a “personal prelature,” sort of like Opus Dei. Nothing official has been announced yet, and the reporting is based on rumors, so it should be taken with some skepticism. But if some kind of personal prelature were to be given and that body’s status were recognized, it would not only reconcile those 400,000 souls but open a gateway for reuniting other disaffected Anglicans.
All of this is really remarkable, and the speed at which it is all happening is dizzying. We often speak of Christian unity, and because of its great difficulty, many have taken to noting that it will be the work of the Holy Spirit and not just the work of us Christians that makes it happen. We have prayed with John Paul the Great that the third millennium will again be a period of unity.
And so I can’t help but look on these things and wonder. One hesitates to get ahead of the Holy Spirit, but one also remembers that God is the God of history, and all these things are part of His divine Providence.
These are times that certainly demand a unified Christian witness, times when encroaching secularism and triumphal scientism and all the terrible spiritual forces of the culture of death seem to be ascendant. What does God have up His sleeve?
Anyway, these are good days to pray for unity, in God’s time and in accord with His most holy will.