Let’s finish up what appears to be an introductory “chapter.” In the last few sections we reviewed, Pope Pius XII attempts to head off fractures in unity involving those supporting liturgical renewal, those concerned with maintaining lawful tradition, and those who care much less for liturgy.
First a reminder that Pope Pius was mainly concerned with that triangulation in the Roman Church, not in Eastern traditions in union with the See of Peter:
11. If in this encyclical letter We treat chiefly of the Latin liturgy, it is not because We esteem less highly the venerable liturgies of the Eastern Church, whose ancient and honorable ritual traditions are just as dear to Us. The reason lies rather in a special situation prevailing in the Western Church, of sufficient importance, it would seem, to require this exercise of Our authority.
MD 12 is a remarkable section:
12. With docile hearts, then, let all Christians hearken to the voice of their Common Father, who would have them, each and every one, intimately united with him as they approach the altar of God, professing the same faith, obedient to the same law, sharing in the same Sacrifice with a single intention and one sole desire. This is a duty imposed, of course, by the honor due to God. But the needs of our day and age demand it as well. After a long and cruel war which has rent whole peoples asunder with it rivalry and slaughter, (people) of good will are spending themselves in the effort to find the best possible way to restore peace to the world. It is, notwithstanding, Our belief that no plan or initiative can offer better prospect of success than that fervent religious spirit and zeal by which Christians must be formed and guided; in this way their common and whole-hearted acceptance of the same truth, along with their united obedience and loyalty to their appointed pastors, while rendering to God the worship due to Him, makes of them one (family): “for we, being many, are one body: all that partake of one bread.”[1 Cor. 10:17]
First, “all Christians.” Christian unity before the altar of God is termed a duty. This wording does not seem to single out any one group. Pius XII expects that this unity will be under a Catholic faith in the Eucharist, we can be sure. Christian unity is a “duty” of all, by our being defined as Christians. It is also incumbent on the post-war Christians to seek for the “voice of (our) Common Father” for the sake of the world and its needs in 1947.
That urging forward is no less needed today. Do Christians see their worship as part of the world’s need for unity? Is Christian unity still a positive and inspiring witness?