AN END TO THE DISSENSIONS

YESTERDAY I WROTE of our need in contemporary society for visionary seers. And on earlier occasions I’ve mentioned a favourite little collection of sayings and stories about the late and very great Pope John XXIII. His is the voice that always comes to my mind when it seems that the world is in need of a voice of calm and personal humility.

MAY EVERYONE be able to say of me that I have never sowed dissension and mistrust. That I have never grieved any immortal soul by engendering suspicion or fear; that I have been frank, loyal, trusting: that I have looked into the eyes of others with brotherly sympathy, even into those of persons who do not share my ideals, so as not to hinder the realisation, in its season, of the great commandment of Jesus: Unum sint! That they be one! (page 133)

of the separated churches:

WE WILL NOT hold an historical trial, we will not seek to know who was right and who was wrong. The responsibilities are shared. We will say simply: “Let us re-unite, let us put an end to the dissensions.” (page 139)

in his last prayer:

PEACE is the house of all (page 159)

on ‘impossibility’:

A PRELATE OF THE CURIA told the Pope: ‘It is absolutely impossible to open the Council in 1963.’ Pope John replied: ‘Good, we’ll open it in 1962!’

May we know such graced leaders in our day. May dialogue be encouraged in the context of a shared humanity, all over the world, between people of all faiths, and of those outside a religious tradition, between people of different political persuasions and personal and corporate histories; may the well-fed engage in relationship with the starving so that words are seen to be, of themselves, not enough.

Uniting the hearts and wills of humankind need not involve every child, woman and man upon earth signing up to just one particular and necessarily limited facet of the human story. Unum sint! – from the mouth of Jesus of Nazareth will surely have been a call to seek unity in a narrative of celebrated diversity. Let us ‘not seek to know who was right and who was wrong. The responsibilities are shared. We will say simply: “Let us re-unite”‘. Humanly. Humanely.