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Unseemly public row is far from Christlike

I am surprised and appalled in equal measure at the unseemly public squabble, as set out in your Write Back pages, between various "post-reformation" Christians and Fr Patrick McCafferty on the subject of salvation by grace, or works, or grace and works.

It is more than 2,000 years since Christ walked on this earth and His adherents since that time appear to have done little else but indulge in doctrinal difference followed by schism, followed by doctrinal difference followed by schism, followed by doctrinal difference followed by schism, ad nauseam. One of the most stupid, or bizarre, issues occurred when Pope Leo IX, in 1054, excommunicated the Oecumenical Patriarch Michael Keroularious in his own cathedral in the most unmannerly fashion in a dispute over eucharistic bread.

Pope Leo's emissary to Constantinople, on this occasion, was Cardinal Humbert, a man not noted for his diplomacy. Cardinal Humbert and his fellow envoys interrupted a service being held in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia and placed the Pope's declaration of excommunication on the altar. They left the Church after symbolically shaking the dust from their feet. The excommunication was not revoked for 900 years.

The Patriarch Michael Keroularious, in the meantime, had left this world a mere four years after his excommunication, to a very uncertain future - for at least the next 896 years until the excommunication was revoked. What an example of Christian behaviour and forgiveness in action. It was in Antioch that followers were first called "Christians" - presumably because their standards of behaviour were "Christlike". The nature of many of the letters published in Write Back amount to anything but Christlike behaviour.

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