by Anura Guruge
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This is even bigger than if he issued an edict accepting gay marriage (something he will never do).
It is on a par with if he permitted female Catholic priests. The only thing that could be BIGGER is if he totally abolished all restrictions, sans caveat, on birth control and abortion.
Yes, it is THAT BIG!
The date when Easter Sunday will be celebrated is something that tore the Church apart — Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter her a different ‘formula’ based on a different calendar. Agreeing on a common date for Easter as been a hitherto irreconcilable difference for over 700 years. Yes, 700 years. We are talking a big deal here.
Yes, agreeing on a common date for Easter would go a long way towards healing the schism between West and East Christianity — Western and the Orthodox.
Trying to work out the date for Easter goes back to the 2nd century. This is big potatoes. The calendar that we now use, the Gregorian Calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII (#227) [1572 – 1585], came to be because the Church did not like Easter coming around when there was still snow on the ground in Europe. Easter was meant to fall in Spring.
Agreeing on a date for Easter across all Christian geographies in the 2nd century was a pivotal factor that led to the establishment of the Papacy! Prior to that all Bishops had equal standing including the Bishop of Rome (now the Pope). But in the 2nd century, given Rome’s historic standing as the epicenter of the Roman empire other Bishops, including those from the East, approached him to arbitrate the Easter date issue. Bishops of Rome grasped on that to say that this gave them primacy. Easter was discussed and mandated upon at the very first Ecumenical Council, that of Nicaea in 325. We even had a major controversy with a lovely sounding name Quartodecimanism (Latin for the 14th day).
So IF the pope can get ALL Christians, East & West, to standardize on a common date for Easter Sunday it would be HUGE.
This is HUGE.
But it will all depend on what the reconciliation is.
IF the Orthodox agree to adopt the Western date without any caveats it would be HUGE.
There will be dancing on the streets.
There will be calls to Saint the Pope even as he is alive.
But if any concessions are given to the Orthodox all hell will break lose.
Protestants will take umbrage to the Pope messing with THEIR Easter.
Even Catholics would balk.
So heads up. This makes the Pope’s climate control encyclical look trivial.