Mass appeal: Pope Benedict with the archbishop of Constantinople, December 2006.
Osservatore Romano / Courtesy Reuters

In terms of budget, personnel, and global reach, the Roman Catholic Church rivals the United Nations, and as far as having a track record of promoting tolerance and peace without resorting to force, it has no equal among states. Over Christianity’s 2,000-year history, its message of love, charity, and self-sacrifice has kept the religion popular and influential, even in the face of relentless attacks. The Soviet Union, for example, shut down churches and waged an aggressive antireligion campaign, but Christianity has outlasted communism. 

Christianity is mending a number of internal, long-standing ruptures as well. In the eleventh century, the faith splintered into the Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation further damaged Christian unity. Today, however, global Christianity is poised to heal these rifts and emerge stronger than ever.

This project was made possible by Pope Benedict XVI, who retired in February, and will

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