So we come up against the mystery of the Church (in its broadest sense) as a clearly articulated but provisional reality. Every genuine expression of Christian discipleship carries within it the seeds of the whole, and one or two particular strands of glory. However, part of that inheritance is an awareness that its human expression is provisional (this side of glory). It does its job when, by its very limitations, it points beyond itself. The real glory of the Church lies wabeyond syncretism, and aly so beyond rational-bureaucratic imperialism.
An organic but limited and provisional awareness needs to inform any debate about the limits of national Churches. What rights does one church (small c) have to park its tanks on other churches’ lawns? Say “none,” and you compromise the totality of the vision that says we all belong to each other. Say “every right” and you walk the foothills of the toxic mess I’ve just called rational-bureaucratic imperialism. There has to be a better option than either of those.
One comment does stick in my mind from Fr Katanic’s blog, by Romanós.
All this smooching between hierarchs and popes is really quite comical, if not even tragic at a deeper level. I have long since personally given up hoping for as well as renouncing the kind of “unity” that this represents. For me, it is simply a non-issue. The unity which Christians share is above all a grace of Christ in the Holy Spirit, and we know that the Church has never been divided and never can be, but for those who battle it out on the external level. The canons of the Church are in place for good reason, and the lines have been drawn with good intentions, but all of these are temporal and fade away at the approach of Christ, for whose sake all who follow Him have given up all, and in whose presence all our righteousness, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, for all their “glory”, are still just filthy rags. Christ has saved us in spite of ourselves, so our best response is to love one another as He has loved us, without plucking each other’s eyebrows in the process.