Our parishioner Pamela writes on Christian Unity

It is 500 years since a monk – Martin Luther – posted his protest on the church door, which was to lead to what is known as The Reformation. In fact he had been moved to make the protest after reading what Erasmus – who would remain an ardent Catholic had written.

The protest lead to a real schism in the Christian Church between the Catholics and the Protestants, bringing much pain and rancour throughout the Church and still worse to violence and to bloodshed on both sides.
This bitterness and even hatred has gone on through the years, though, thankfully, the bloodshed has ceased, but prejudice and open dislike continued to be apparent well into late 20th C. Most Catholics will have experienced some aspect of this prejudice and suspicion, possibly felt unwilling to admit to or discuss their faith at one time, and if so are thankful to find they experience less of it at the present time.

The Ecumenical Movement, which was initiated in the early 20th C, has seen much time and work put into bringing Christians into a more harmonious relationship with those other Christians whose church may have given them a different outlook in their faith. In general we do now show some tolerance of each other’s views. Starting some 40 years ago with “The People Next Door” and going on with “Churches Together” there has been a real effort made to understand the different points of view held by the various Christian Churches, recognising that it is our Christianity that is important.

Recently there have been Christian leaders making public appeals for a better acceptance of our Christian fellowship, these appeals have come from Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop Welby and notably from Pope Francis calling for a greater unity amongst the Christian Churches.

Both of the Catholic churches in our twin parish have links with their neighbours through Churches Together, the links are perhaps growing more slowly for St Joseph’s, right in the town and with very many more churches to meet but St Hugh’s has for some time had a a friendly relationship with the other village churches. The local circumstances will have their effect on the relationship, things like the age of the church community, the size of the population, and the number of churches will, of course, all have make a difference to any relationship. So now we hope to move closer to our neighbours, it will take time but be the more valuable.

Pamela Ostler