Pope Francis said in a recent interview that he “doesn’t fear Schism in the Church”, as criticism rages against the apparent permission for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion, among other social and political issues. The potential schismatics, according to the cited article and others would be the so called politically and socially conservative Catholics, otherwise known as the “Rigid Ones”.
Unfortunately, we live in a society and culture that is increasingly marked by personal isolation, subsequent mental issues, as well as the prevalence of the broken family. No-fault divorce is not in the slightest taboo anymore, while mixed and alternative families are heralded as supreme beauty. Divergence and deviancy is celebrated in the public square. Any position that opposes tradition is identified to be bold and courageous. All this while those that attempt to look too or honor tradition are quickly identified as “Rigid”.
The language that precedes a split/separation/schism is of interest to me. The name calling and rhetoric can generally tell the observer the intent or lack of empathy of those calling the names. The “Rigid” ones it seems, have already been scapegoated as the cause of any potential coming split. It seems the writing is already on the wall. This is a tragedy.
I have worked in various ministry settings and with people in general my entire adult life. I for one, do not like schism in any form. I don’t like divorce, I don’t like parents and children estranged, I don’t like broken friendships, I don’t like senseless separation. I don’t like church splits.
Having grown up Evangelical/Pentecostal, I learned early on about church splits, one of many manifestations of our broken religiosity and societal fabric. Separation and schism is never cause for celebration, but a great reason for mourning.
I’m not saying separation is never warranted, but I say it should be dreaded. Our Lord prayed that we would all be one, just as He and the Father are One. Anything other than that should be cause for sadness.