Main Menu  

   

We are members of the only one Church of God.

“Be always in the Joy of the Lord” was Mgr Eleuterio Fortino’s greeting to the second world gathering of Interchurch Families meeting at Mondo Migliore on the opposite side of the Lake Albino to Castelgandolfo, Rome. He went onto emphasise that we are members of the only one Church of God and members of the church as pilgrims can change the situation we are living in.

Mgr. Fortino was bringing a message from Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in which we were reminded of our Commitment of Life and Love, that we are not a problem but are living in the midst of a problem. The Cardinal reminded us that praying and pondering the scriptures together will have an effect outside the family and his message closed with the assurance that the Pontifical Council had a heartfelt concern for all of us.

This international gathering consisted of some 300 people including couples, priests, ministers and 100 children representing at least 11 countries, 3 continents and 7 denominations. Inter-church Families is a network for couples and families where partners belong to different denominations – often a Roman Catholic and a Christian of another communion.

The previous day Professor Daniele Garrone, a Waldensian theologian responded to the preparatory paper. He reminded us that Italy hardly knows of Inter-Church marriages as the large majority are Roman Catholic and for an Italian RC priest being involved in an inter-church marriage is probably the first time he has come across protestants - an opportunity for mutual enrichment. He suggested that we should not be dominated by the unity we have not yet achieved, but on gifts God has given us: not as a resignation to the present situation but living in the tension of gratitude and hope. But he also reminded us to keep pressing bishops and theologians to find a way ahead as we are suffering as long as we can’t find a way through the problem. What matters is to be in Christ, be Christians.

Later the same morning 50 delegates went from the gathering to visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Vatican. This was a formal occasion to present the preparatory paper and hopefully to institute a link between the Association and the Pontifical Council.

Sunday afternoon saw some of us being very English, avoiding the heat of Rome and enjoying a cup of tea in the Anglican Centre where Bishop John Flack, the new Director welcomed us. Bishop John told us something about the centre’s important work in these Ecumenical times, representing the whole Anglican Communion to Rome. The centre’s library, which forms an important part of the theological works in English available in Rome, is often used by students of the English, Scottish and Welsh Colleges. Earlier on Sunday morning some 200 of us were present for the Angelus at Castelgandolfo where the Holy Father greeted us in French “I greet you, dear pilgrims, particularly you who belong to the group of Inter-church Families. On this Sunday, the Day of the Lord, may you be able to draw from His word the strength you need for your daily path. With my Apostolic blessing, I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week ahead."

Although we have belonged to Interchurch Families all are married lives, we hadn’t previously attended any of their conferences. We were impressed to find a group of Christians not dominated by difficulties thrown up by their churches and/or parents, but doing their best to actively live out their Christian vocation enriched by both traditions. Their children and young people, who had their own programme during the conference were a credit both to their parents and to the Association and were living proof 
that no church should be concerned unduly about Interchurch marriages. Worship formed a very important part of the conference and we experienced a rich multilingual variety from various traditions including one lead by the youth. Also the young people themselves decided to have an all night vigil to pray for unity. There was plenty of opportunity to share informally with others, learning about their joys and difficulties as well as something about the Ecumenical scene in other countries especially Europe which is so different from England.

We came back from Rome encouraged that the Ecumenical movement is very much alive and with a renewed sense of urgency to play are part in fulfilling our Lord’s prayer in the Garden Of Gethsemane “That they may all be One”

Malcolm & Josie Green


The Association of Interchurch Families can be contacted in England on 020 7523 2152 . Their web-site is www.interchurchfamilies.org.uk where there will be a link to the official report of the gathering. The authors are interested to hear from any local Interchurch Families 020 8366 3389.