We are one body in Christ but a body of great diversity. The Catholic community is comprised of members from a vast range of cultures, lifestyles, and economic backgrounds, and therefore, also a variance of hopes and dreams for our Church.
Authors Louis De Thomasis, FSC and Cynthia A. Nienhaus, CSA write of the divide in our Church in their book, The Silent Schism. Healing the Serious Split in the Catholic Church. The focus is on the hope for a healthy, unified church strong in faith and love for all members as well as the world at large.
The beginning of the book contains definitions and explanations that give it a bit of a slow start but forms a necessary foundation for the following chapters. So if you struggle with the first few pages, hang in there.
Father De Thomasis and Sister Nienhaus, CSA say that today’s schism is not one of separation but a force for church unity and necessary for transformation. They insist that compared to other major schisms in our church history, this one is different in its dynamics and attributes. Current issues are related to liturgy, sexual morality, gender equality, social justice, and censoring of theologians and others who question what is considered established church doctrine.
Conservatives are resistant and insistent on no changes, even those mandated by Vatican II. Others feel unable to disagree, critique, or even discuss issues of importance to them and no longer attend or leave as a result. And of course, the majority believe in endless variations of the above.
The authors encourage the People of God to see clearly the needs before us, have the courage to challenge and change, and stand on the side of the suffering and oppressed. They also have great hope in the leadership and direction of Pope Frances.
On May 19, 2013, Pope Francis said, “The Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charism and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a source of wealth, for Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean conformity, but which leads everything back to harmony.”