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World Gathering of Interchurch families
Final statement

After a gathering at the World Council of Churches Headquarters, in Geneva Switzerland, from July 23 through July 28, 1998, 200 participants, Interchurch families, their children, priests and pastors from about 15 countries and 3 continents propose the following message after comprehensive and thorough deliberations:

I- Our spiritual experience

We Interchurch families, daily live a life of love in quest for unity. Thus we are able to bear witness to our calling to work towards unity and to our need to hold out our hands, ever more welcome and solidarity with those whose inclusion in the Churches is a problem. We believe that the Church of Christ is indivisible and that, basically, we are one, even despite our denominational varieties. We urge our Churches to recognize these diversities as true riches, as gifts because we ourselves have experienced spiritual enrichment, tolerance and reciprocal recognition. We have encountered and loved our spouses because they are different, and through them we love their Churches. And this is a true evangelical experience.

II- Our role in the Churches

We Interchurch couples, live our cross-denominational marriage as a Christian marriage, suffering from the divisions between the Churches. With full respect for the official reflections which are taking place, convinced that there is a need for joint pastoral care, we realize that at official levels reaction (and behavior ) are often diverse, usually due to personal attitudes, but mostly due to insufficient knowledge of present documents of agreement. We therefore believe that it is urgent to solve this problem, that Interchurch families as “laboratories for unity” can provide support towards the healing process with our practical experience and theoretical reflections: in particular with respect to catechesis, joint prayer, openness towards one another, in accompanying young couples and in letting our Churches benefit from our capacity to work in “networks”. 

III- Eucharistic hospitality

Our Lord Jesus Christ urges us to pray daily for spiritual and material bread. At the origin of the Church, and for centuries thereafter, this bread was shared at the same table. As Church cells, with inspiration from the original “house churches” (ecclesia domestica), we implore our Churches to respond to our profound need by a clear invitation to share the Lord’s Supper together, within all the Christian ecclesial / Church / communities and thus express the entire Church’s hope for unity. Eucharistic hospitality does seem to us the only possible way to avoid confusion / separation, a danger which in continental Europe is often referred to as the “Third Church”, i.e. neither Catholic nor Protestant.

IV- Our Children and adolescents

We urge our Churches to trust our children to find their place. They need to be strengthened in their aspirations and not to be discouraged by not being listened to. They are searching as we are for a more authentic expression of faith. In their own words: 

“We need actions not just words. We want to be confirmed as Christians, not as members of a specific denomination. As we are all different from one another, we would need to invent a specific denomination for each one of us. Our dream is of a Church which welcomes all individuals. Let us not fear change, God is on our side. It will be up to our generation to take the decisions in the Churches of the future.”

V- Four concrete proposals

  1. We suggest that a plea for pardon for past divisions, an act of grace for unity already achieved, be introduced in our worships. 
  2. We urge our Churches to improve the theoretical and practical training of our ministers. They must in particular: 
* remember that ecumenism is at the heart of their mission,
* become better acquainted with other denominations,
* be better informed about the agreements achieved between Churches.
  1. We suggest a publication of a list of places open to ecumenism,similar to the lists of religious centers.
  2. We deplore having to address two different ecumenism authorities. We call upon the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to be housed together under one single roof, with a calling to work together daily.