[TBC: Rome's pursuit of gathering together all "Christians" and all religions into one homogenous religious system shows no sign of slowing. Neither has their efforts to remake the image of Rome into an entity with "track record of promoting tolerance and peace without resorting to force..." (see below). Dave Hunt has written, "The crusaders were not Christians but Roman Catholics to whom (to match Islam's promise of paradise for Muslims dying in jihad) Pope Urban II promised escape from purgatory to heaven for dying in the fight to recover the "Holy Land" (not for Israel but for the Church!). They disobeyed Christ in fighting for an earthly kingdom and killed every Jew they encountered" (TBC, Jan. 2008). Even if the current pope could make amends for his Church's long history of abuses, whatever unity it might establish would be devoid of the biblical gospel of salvation.]
The Church Undivided: Benedict’s Quest to Bring Christians Back Together
Pope Benedict XVI made reaching out to other faiths and promoting Christian unity hallmarks of his tenure. Pope Francis will continue this work, not only because he has a history of facilitating religious dialogue, but also because global Catholicism requires it.
In terms of budget, personnel, and global reach, the Roman Catholic Church rivals the United Nations, and as far as having a track record of promoting tolerance and peace without resorting to force, it has no equal among states. Over Christianity’s 2,000-year history, its message of love, charity, and self-sacrifice has kept the religion popular and influential, even in the face of relentless attacks. The Soviet Union, for example, shut down churches and waged an aggressive antireligion campaign, but Christianity has outlasted communism.
Christianity is mending a number of internal, long-standing ruptures as well. In the eleventh century, the faith splintered into the Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation further damaged Christian unity. Today, however, global Christianity is poised to heal these rifts and emerge stronger than ever.
This project was made possible by Pope Benedict XVI, who retired, and will now be carried out by his successor, Pope Francis. When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict in 2005, few expected him to accomplish much in the way of outreach and bridge building. In his previous position as the designated protector of church doctrine, Ratzinger had proved himself to be a strict traditionalist; in the run-up to his selection as pope, The Washington Post described him as “the guardian of orthodoxy.”
Yet Benedict’s authority as a renowned theologian and the happenstance of his German birth made him an unusually successful advocate for Christian unity. Indeed, Benedict did more during his eight-year reign to overcome the Great Schism of 1054 and the Protestant Reformation, and to promote interfaith dialogue, than any of his predecessors, including Pope John Paul II. In the process, he helped distinguish the Vatican’s worldview from Washington’s in important ways and paved the way for improved cooperation among Christians of various denominations on religious, moral, and political issues worldwide. Francis will undoubtedly continue this effort.