The 5th Century Church faced many trials, from the outside and from within. Internally, there was division about the nature of the person of Christ; externally, the barbarians were, literally, at the gates. During the Council of Chalcedon, upon hearing the statement of Pope St. Leo the Great on the two natures of Christ, the acclamation arose, “Peter has spoken through Leo!” About one year later, Leo would meet Attila the Hun, pleading with this conqueror of kings, that he might conquer his own bloodthirst and spare the innocent people of the city. Attila heeded his request (seeing a vision of Saints Peter and Paul, beside Leo with swords drawn, helped).
In 2017, we face many crises, from secularism to international terrorism. Pope Francis arrived this past week in the Asian country of Myanmar, not only to strengthen the Christian minority, but also to speak with the Buddhist majority (around 90%) about the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. This region is home to over 1 million Rohingya Muslims experiencing what is now universally acknowledged as ethnic cleansing. More than 626,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since August 2017. Immediately upon his arrival, Pope Francis met with General Min Aung Hlaing, Buddhist military leader of the Rakhine State, appealing to him for peace.
In the face of conflicts and crises of all stripes, the Church perennially rests on the solid foundation upon which Christ has set her. In every century, Peter speaks. Are we listening to him today as he speaks through Francis?