” YouUnity is harmony in the diversity of charisms conferred by the Spirit,” Pope Francis told the pan-Orthodox delegation of priests and monks from the Autocephalous Eastern Churches Friday, June 3. Churches, mainly in the Middle East and Africa, have often faced heavy persecution and have been separated for centuries from the mother church in Rome. Francis reminded the delegation of the Catholic Church’s goal of “full unity” by centering his speech around this theme.
“The first thought is that unity is a gift, a fire from above,” Francis said as he linked the theme of unity to the Pentecost celebrated this weekend. “Certainly, we constantly need to pray, to work, to dialogue and to prepare ourselves to receive this extraordinary grace. Yet the realization of unity is not primarily a fruit of the earth, but of the sky. It is not primarily the result of our commitment, our efforts and our agreements, but of the action of the Holy Spirit, to whom we must open our hearts in trust, so that he may guide on the way to full communion. Unity is a grace, a gift.
The Eastern Orthodox Churches represent approximately 60 million members worldwide. They share a common heritage with the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, but have rejected some of the decisions made in ecumenical councils, which has caused them to develop rather independently since the fifth century. In the 20th century, ecumenical meetings resumed but without much progress.
Being among one of the first churches to split from “unity” with the Roman Catholic Church, Francis’ desire to bridge the gap is understandable. In November 2020, Pope Francis told Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople I that he believes that Catholics and Orthodox Christians will again attain full communion. But at this point, the various Orthodox churches are not even in full communion with each other.
Despite centuries of failed attempts to unite splinter groups, the Catholic Church has not given up. These efforts to unite the so-called “Christian” churches under his rule match the prophetic description of a woman in Isaiah 47.
“And you said: I will be a lady forever…. I am, and no one but me; I will not sit as a widow, nor will I know the loss of children” (verses 7-8). A woman is used as a symbol of a church in the Bible. For example, Ephesians 5:23-33 and Revelation 19:7 describe the true Church of God as a woman, or bride, who will marry Jesus Christ at his return. But Isaiah 47 does not refer to the true Church of God.
Verse 1 shows that this church claims “a throne,” but God will strip her of her authority. The Catholic Church is the only church that claims a throne; he even receives ambassadors from countries all over the world. Additionally, Isaiah 47 refers to the Church as the “daughter of Babylon.” The Roman Catholic Church adopted the Babylonian Mystery Religion (explained in detail in Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages; request a free copy).
In this prophetic vision, this church is recorded saying, “I am, and there is no one else beside me.” This mother church will tolerate no rivals. The Bible indicates that the Catholic Church will be able to achieve this goal, albeit for a short time. To learn more, read “Homecoming”.