Tonight I took from the shelf a book entitled Mary is for Everyone. As you might gather from the title, it’s a collection of essays from authors across a range of Christian traditions on the ecumenical significance of Mary.

I looked through it with some sadness. Its ecumenical orientation is necessary and laudable, but I wondered why all the effort put into this area, as in so many others in the ecumenical arena, have borne so little fruit.

One reason is that most churchgoers really don’t want church unity. They fear losing their identity. Another is the persistence, at the grassroots, of stereotypes of other churches. Another is the simple fact that church unity does not equal church growth. When congregation size is fetishized, anything that doesn’t increase church membership is eventually dropped like the proverbial hot potato.