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Catholic Dictionary




Historic divisions in Christian unity. These divisions are differently appraised by different communions. From the Catholic standpoint, the divisions are not only schismatic but also doctrinal, even as regards the Oriental Christians who do not recognize the Roman primacy. Other churches vary in applying the term "schism" to ecclesiastical separatism. The Eastern Churches and certain Reformed and Lutheran bodies look upon the disunity as basically theological and therefore solvable only through dogmatic reconciliation, while the majority consider the divisions merely schismatic. In this theory, the reunion of Christianity primarily demands not change of belief by the exercise of charity, which is the antidote for schism and which can "make all things work together for good--even our divisions," as expressed by the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.