For someone with a healthy conscience, lying is a very difficult thing. Simply saying something untrue is so blatantly wrong that it’s impossible to hide from the heart. In fact, even someone with a bad conscience might avoid lying because it’s so easy to get caught in a lie. Easier to hide, both from oneself and from others, is a half-truth. To say something technically true, but only tell part of the truth, is much more harmful because it is much harder to detect, and more often than not, the hidden half of the truth is the most important – why else would someone want to hide it?
Unity is one of the primary goals that Jesus had for his Church. He prayed, “that they may all be one.” But this is only half the truth – in fact, it is only half of this verse. The whole verse is: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). For Jesus, unity is not the whole story. He wants us to be one as he and the Father are one, so that the world may believe the Father sent him. Unity is not an end in itself. It must be combined with love and the Gospel – in other words, true Unity requires Goodness and Truth. If it is without these, it is a false unity.
False unity is very possible. In fact, Jesus points out that even Satan’s kingdom is unified: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand; and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:25-26). This unity is a lie because the demons of hell are united in opposition to God. Yet they are united, as was the crowd that shouted for Christ to be crucified, and as were the disciples when they abandoned our Lord on the Cross. John was alone there among the Twelve, standing beside Mary, gazing with her at the Messiah as he hung upon the Cross – the instrument of torture that became the instrument of salvation only because his Body hung upon it.
Where were the other Eleven? They had fled in fear – fear of the political tyranny that was attempting to destroy the Truth Incarnate. But the Apostles knew they were at fault; they admitted their cowardice and did not try to justify it. What if they did? What if the Eleven tried to claim that they were doing the right thing in turning their backs to the Cross and abandoning our Lord? What if they blamed John for “destroying their unity” by staying with Jesus? What if Thomas accused John of wrongdoing and rallied people against him? And what if John defended himself and told the truth, if he appealed to Peter, and Thomas became even more enraged, and tried to attack John before as Peter was watching?
It’s hard to imagine the Apostles acting in this way. But today we are watching their successors do just this. In the name of Unity we watch as brothers attack one another – attack their own mother, the Church. The level of deception as this happens is blinding: when one brother tries to cut off the arms and legs of another, when he tries to kill his children, and the second brother defends himself, it is the second brother who is accused of wrongdoing, of “harming unity!” It is as if someone’s body was sick, all except for one arm, and instead of the rest of the body healing itself, it resented the arm for not becoming sick like the rest of the body. This is not unity but tyranny, and of a terrible kind, because it is a tyranny built on deception and decay.
Christ did not come to establish a tyranny, but a Kingdom. He did not come to make each Apostle a monarch – he alone is the King of Kings, and the Apostles share in his Authority, with the Bishop of Rome as his own personal Vicar on earth. The Kingdom of God is not built on deception and it is not unified by force. The Kingdom of God is one in the Truth and in the Good.
This means our unity as a Chaldean Catholic Church is established on the Truth and on the Good, and neither of these is arrived at through lies or violence. We arrive at the Truth by caring about it more than about our pride; we arrive at the Good by the rejection of evil. In fact, true “dialogue” means allowing someone to disagree with us and talking with them until one of us is convinced. It is impossible for there to be any dialogue when we reject or suspend anyone who doesn’t agree with our personal preferences.
But in the end, this is a matter for our bishops to resolve among themselves. In the meantime, what can the rest of us do? First and foremost, pray. Pray for the Truth Incarnate to unify us in himself. Second, look at our own lives and ask whether we are really living in the Truth, which sometimes requires us to become unpopular and even suffer for its sake, or whether we have sold out the Truth for the sake of popularity, under the mask of a false “unity.” Third, be patient as the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ on earth, gives us his directive, so that in true obedience we can be one, as Christ and the Father are one.