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The Persecution of Christians is Nothing New

Another interesting passage from Trevor Gervase Jalland’s The Church and the Papacy:

It is, of course,unnecessary to point out that the Roman Catholic Communion as it is to-day, and possibly as it has been from the beginning, is bound up with the belief that the Roman see, as the see of St. Peter the Apostle and of his successors, exists de iure divino. Do these words mean then that ‘ultimately’ some belief in the divine origin of the Papacy must be accepted by all, if such a scheme of Reunion is to become practicable as may be held to be in accordance with the will of God ? Conceivably not. Yet what is the alternative ? Apparently the idea that when the ‘great Latin Church of the West’ has ‘ultimately’ rid itself of the incubus of papal authority, it will become a suitable partner in a co-operative society of Christians. Perhaps we can only suppose that the real implications of this remarkable statement have never been fully thought out. Yet never has the need for such consideration been greater than at the present time. Not only is Christianity in many countries faced with active hostility, if not with actual persecution, but surely it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that at the present moment its very principles are at stake. Can we afford therefore to neglect any longer the paramount need for a united Christian front against that alliance of the forces of secularism which unhappily finds its supporters not only on the side of our most determined political enemies, but even among those whom we count our staunchest and most loyal friends? Dare we neglect to explore afresh the differences which exist between Christians, particularly those which divide the ‘historic churches’ of Christendom?

It’s amazing that the statement in italics (emphasis mine) came from 1942, given the concept these days that Christianity has never been persecuted as much as it is today.  At that time the faith’s main antagonists were Stalin and Hitler, although Catholicism in particular has gone through nasty attacks in places such as France, Mexico and Spain.

It’s also interesting to hear him say that, for the church, “at the present moment its very principles are at stake.”  The difference between then and now is that now the leadership of the historical churches have sold the pass the way they have, although such has been predictable for a long time.

The desire for unity in Christianity is something Our Lord expressed before he went to the Cross.  The problem always has been putting the unity and the principles together.  The way things are going, I think it’s more important to find the unity with those who hold to the principles rather than waiting for those who formally hold the “seat of honour” to come around.


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