Feel good story on Religion in 2016!
In a year when Islam has been stigmatized throughout the West and faith-based sectarian conflicts have re-opened in the Middle East, “religious unity” isn’t a phrase that immediately springs to mind when you think about 2016. But a meeting between two branches of the Christian church did go against the grain.
Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, and Patriarch Kirill, leader of Russian Orthodox Christianity, met in Cuba in February. It was the first time in nearly 1,000 years that the most senior figures in the Russian and Roman Churches had met; the two branches split in the “great schism” of 1054.
The two Churches did not agree to any formal advance in relations. But the meeting sent a message to Christians: ending human suffering—such as that faced by Christians in war-torn parts of the Middle East—should be more important than theological differences. “God makes no distinctions between those who suffer,” the Pope said at the time.