Let us play a little game of “what-if.” Suppose that our ecumenical dialogues with the various separated communions should bear real fruit and full communion were to be restored between the Catholic Church and one or more of our sister Churches; suppose, for the sake of discussion, that we renew full unity with the Greek Orthodox. What, in such a case, would we do with all of the saints who are hailed precisely for their work in the events leading to the original breakdown in unity?
Mark of Ephesus and Photius of Constantinople are both revered among the Greek Orthodox for sticking up against (what they see as) the tyrrany of Rome. On the Catholic side of things, folks like Josaphat of Polotsk and Andrew Bobola are revered for opposing precisely the same spirit which Mark and Photius acclaimed. Each side has traditionally reviled the other’s champions (as is evident in the bitterly polemic treatment which Photius gets in the Catholic Encyclopedia).
So, if unity between the communions were to be restored, what would we do with these rather controversial saints. Would both sides be required to expunge the offending heros from their canons? Would each side just say “bygones be bygones” and revere all of them, including the ones which each had formerly reviled? Would Romans keep Roman saints and Greeks keep Greek saints, and everyone please try to remember to be polite enough never to mention them in mixed company.
I do not wish to suggest that this is really a Church-dividing issue, but it is interesting to consider. What, if anything, could be done with the awkward-but-holy?