East versus West, time and space. This is a long problem for the Church as a whole. It is a big world and for a long time not everyone was Christian but Christians went everywhere. Christianity developed in pockets that, while based in the same Faith, had subtle differences (as well as some major ones), usually manifested in small "t" traditions like liturgical practices. As the Church grew and legitimized, those pockets began to merge into the larger Church. Men like Wilfrid, Cuthbert, and others of his time, both Celtic and Roman, came together to solidify the Christianity we know today. But disagreements still exist. They say that the winners write history but that really cannot be true of a shared history where everyone agrees on the history.
What we often see is bitterness and rancor about not being on top especially when we see ourselves as more correct than anyone else. But we can also definitely say that when one side is up and the other down, the downs usually have some good arguments for losses due to powerlessness. But if, instead of seeing it as up and down, we should see it universally, then we can frame it as one side able to sustain itself long enough to bring stability to the other allowing the Church as a whole to continue and grow.
It appears though, that even with local councils making decisions, we can quibble about what seems to be winners and losers. We can be recalcitrant about those decisions making it not about right or wrong but about, at best, having our voices be heard and at worst being petty about our prestige and ego. This is true of too many things within the Church.
Perhaps, you might say, in my vagueness I am over-simplifying this. I am. But I am not speaking to the past but to us today. Will we let wrongs and perceived wrongs of the past fester and grow? Or will we follow Christ's desires and seek reconciliation and forgiveness? That is our job, not being right. Diversity is part of our strength; so is shared doctrine. The wrongs of the past belong to the past - none of us can change the past but it is still something we share. One cannot claim the shared history as one's alone as either victim or victor. It is not about what our fore-bearers did or did not do but what we will do to do a better job of living out the Gospel together. It is together that we own Christ, or rather that he owns us.
Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ located at Philadelphia in the province of Asia. You have found mercy and have been strengthened in the peace of God; you are now filled with gladness because of the passion of our Lord, and by his mercy you are made believers in his resurrection. I greet you in the blood of Jesus Christ. You are my abiding and unshakeable joy, especially if your members remain united with the bishop and with his presbyters and deacons, all appointed in accordance with the mind of Christ who by his own will has strengthened them in the firmness which the Spirit gives.
I know that this bishop has obtained his ministry, which serves the community, neither by his own efforts, nor from men nor even out of vainglory, but from the love of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am deeply impressed by his gentleness, and by his silence he is more effective than the empty talkers. He is in harmony with the commandments as is a lute with its strings. I call him blessed, then, for his sentiments toward God, since I know these to be virtuous and perfect, and for his stability and calm, in which he imitates the gentleness of the living God.
As sons of the light of truth, flee divisions and evil doctrines; where your shepherd is, follow him as his flock.
For all who belong to God and Jesus Christ are with the bishop; all who repent and return to the unity of the Church will also belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not be deceived, my brothers. If anyone follows a schismatic, he will not obtain the inheritance of God’s kingdom; if anyone lives by an alien teaching, he does not assent to the passion of the Lord.
Be careful, therefore, to take part only in the one Eucharist; for there is only one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to unite us with his blood, one altar and one bishop with the presbyters and deacons, who are his fellow servants. Then, whatever you do, you will do according to God.
-- Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians
Things to Think About