Move to reunite Eastern and Western Churches

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 200902.jpg
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I (Born Dimitrios Arhondonis) regarded as the primus inter pares (first among equals) in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and as the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.

It has been reported that at the end of June Pope Francis gave a reliquary, containing what are said to be bone fragments belonging to the Apostle Peter, to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. No pope has officially declared the bones to be authentic, but Pope Paul VI in 1968 remarked that they were “identified in a way that we can consider convincing”. Genuine or not, the Patriarch described the Pope’s gift as a “grand, fraternal and historic gesture”, and “a brave and bold initiative”. His representative, Archbishop Job of Telmessos who received the gift, said that it was “another gigantic step toward concrete unity”.

Over many years, discussions have taken place and proposals have been made for the bringing together of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, separated from the time of the “Great Schism” of 1054.

The East–West Schism, also called the Great Schism and the Schism of 1054, was the break of communion between what are now the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches, which had lasted until the 11th century. { “Great Schism”, Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (article), Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3}
The Schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between the Christian East and West which had developed over the preceding centuries.

The mutual excommunications by the pope and the patriarch in 1054 became a watershed in church history. The excommunications were not lifted until 1965, when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, following their historic meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, presided over simultaneous ceremonies that revoked the excommunication decrees. {Encyc.Brit.}

Traditionally, according to our understanding of latter-day prophecy, our community has long expected such a reunion (see, for example, Brother Thomas’ comments in Eureka, Volume 3, Chapter 13, Section 11, “The Body of the Beast”), before the whole system is removed and replaced by the dominion of Christ and his immortalised saints – and the veneration of relics, a practice that has no basis in scripture, will be consigned to history!

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