Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Christian unity is a viable goal

By Munir Bayouk/ : :

Reports have recently spread that Ukrainians are encouraged to switch Christmas celebrations to December 25 in line with the Gregorian calendar.


This is corroborated by the fact that for the first time in centuries, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will allow worshippers to celebrate Christmas on 25 December, as marked by the Gregorian calendar. 


This move  seems to reflect a religious view and could lead to the emergence of Christian unity. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine made the decision in October 2022, after the Church's Synod met to discuss the organization of Christmas religious services for those outside Ukraine. This decision was made "for the purpose of organizing service for the faithful who were forced to temporarily find themselves outside the borders of Ukraine as a result of the war". 


Regardless of anything, this position can be viewed as a daring step designed to reorganize "the Christian House" and heal Christian disunity which has been an open wound for years.


The crux of Christianity distances itself from any step leading to spiritual schism or disunity. It rather asserts the need for unity based on love, sacrifice, and altruism. What is needed at present is massing efforts in the direction of cementing any form of Christian unity and brushing aside any measure that would cause further divisions.


Christmas is very  important because it is a celebration marking the birth of Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth who came to redeem all mankind. On that day, Lord Jesus, the Son of God, become man lived with us on Earth, as He still does, in order that he would be the payment for the sins of the world, past, present, and future.


Christmas is a day of remembrance, worship, and contemplation of the Divine glory represented in the birth of the most sublime person in the world, namely Lord Jesus Christ. This very day indicates that all Christians worldwide should jointly celebrate the birth of the Savior, seek unity, and eliminate all factors that would trigger disputes and disunity. This august event should never be a point of contention. It must rather be of point of joy and unity where all hands may be raised to glorify the birth of the Savior.


It is hoped that this step will not lead to any schism in the Orthodox Church, but would remind everyone that the attainment of Christian unity is not a matter of courtesy, but rather a duty.


On the other hand, upon concluding his visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain, His Holiness Pope Francis made a wholehearted call for Christian unity as divisions have over the years served as a deep crack snowballing into deep diversity.


Lamenting divisions among Christians, which he termed as “have wounded the Lord’s holy body,” the Pope stressed that "what unites us far exceeds what divides us.”


Another sign of efforts designed to establish Christian unity is the meeting that took place on Saturday, November 19, 2022 between Pope Francis Mar Awa III, the head of the Assyrian Church of the East. During the meeting, Pope Francis said,  “Let us have the courage to put an end to this division... the sign we should give is: One Christ for all of us.” He also expressed a dream that the separation between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Catholic Church, “the longest in the history of the Church” might be “the first to be resolved.”


Further encouraging reports indicate that, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, has confirmed his support for finding a common date to celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection (commonly known as Easter). Conversations have been under way in this regard between Church representatives to come to an agreement, such a common date to be set for the year 2025, close to the 1,700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea. Consequently, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity Cardinal Kurt Koch, has also supported the suggestion that Catholics and Orthodox work to agree on a common date to celebrate the Feast of the resurrection.


It is  hoped that the Christian world will not face any schism or would rather heal it by proceeding towards unity which will entrench love among all Christians and exude the beauty of Christianity as a source of love, peace, and interfaith harmony to the entire world.