The Theology of the Body Broken in Practice: The Great Schism (part 1 of 2)

In addition to ending his Papal addresses on the Theology of the Body with what I would consider a request for an expansion of the “Theology of the Body” into what I call the “Theology of the Body Broken” (for more info, see this older post here), another key point from Blessed Pope John Paul II that opens up the Theology of the Body Broken would be related to his reflections on the Schism between the Churches of the East and the West.


Many know that Pope John Paul was an advocate of comparing the Great Schism with physiology. As one example, in Ut Unum Sint he wrote, “the Church must breathe with her two lungs!”

Let us consider the implications of the Theology of the Body Broken as they relate to this analogy. In a future post, I will offer a solution to the problems posed-but for now, enter into this mystery to understand how the Theology of the Body Broken might be an answer to this call to consider the problem of suffering and death, as was stated by Blessed Pope John Paul.


If we consider the health of a body, it is true that one’s vigor and strength are contingent upon the possession of both lungs. If one loses a lung due to disease, one’s chances for being the best athlete possible are seriously in jeopardy. In that sense, the consideration of the schism between East and West is most apt. One cannot live in strength and fullness if only one of two lungs are present. In that sense, there is nothing defective about calling the Churches East and West two lungs in one body.


However, if one probes deeper with the mystical lens of the Theology of the Body Broken, there might be something missing with this comparison. Would one say that the particular genius of the East and the West is simply a matter of losing 50% of one’s breath? In other words, is the tragedy of the Great Schism a mere quantitative reduction in vitality? Or might there be another perspective that considers the Body from a more qualitative defect? As we will see, it is less a matter of the physiology of the lungs, and more a matter of the physiology of the eyes, where the Great Schism can come into greater focus.





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