The 1,000-Year-Old Schism that Pope Francis Seeks to Heal
Pope Francis travels this weekend to the Middle East, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and will meet with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders.
But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement.
Meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras set a milestone: They started the process of healing the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of the year 1054.
Moves toward closer understanding followed, but differences remain on issues such as married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican.
It was the current Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I — known as the “first among equals in the Orthodox church” — who asked Francis to join him in Jerusalem.
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