This year’s Easter falling on the same date for Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics characterizes the ever-improving relationship between the two Christian denominations. The Orthodox and Catholic churches split after their historic “schism” in 1054. However, since the middle of the 20th century, dignitaries of the long disconnected faiths have made great strides toward increasing communication and cooperation.
Last year, the spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I, attended the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis. This was the first meeting of its kind between leaders of the two churches since their schism and helped continue the discussion for ecumenism, or the promotion of Christian unity. Goodwill between the two faiths is expected to continue as Bartholomew and Francis have made plans to meet each other on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem in May.
Two historically divided faiths reconciling their differences peacefully will serve as a positive example for other antagonistic religious factions. Although the idea of the Orthodox and Catholic churches integrating may be idealistic at best, simple dialogue and deference between leaders of the faiths will undoubtedly go a long way in mending their hackneyed divide. Heads of spiritual groups currently in violent conflict should turn to the West and realize that conflicts, no matter how deep-seeded they may be, can be resolved.