It was on this date, December 7, 1965, that Roman Catholic Pope Paul VI and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I (Αθηναγόρας Α’) simultaneously lifted the 900-year-old mutual excommunications that led to the split of their two churches in 1054. An excommunication in the Dark Ages actually meant something, whereas today it would be a laughing matter. That’s progress. But even in the 11th century, the power of the Roman Church to punish heresy was employed with a political tone-deafness, and a preference for instant gratification over the long-term interests of the Church, that was repeated with similar loss for the Church in the excommunication of King Henry VIII.
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Originally published December 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
Hawthorne never bothered to attend church as an adult and one biographer observes that, "His own family did not know what his opinions were."