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Domestic Church
A Review of Documents, Papers and Presentations


Introduction

The document "Interchurch Families and Christian Unity" , more commonly known in interchurch family (IF) circles as the Rome document, was the fruit of years of maturation leading to a self-understanding of interchurch families and their call within and gift to the churches of which they are members.  In this document, and drawing on their experience, interchurch families expressed how they see themselves, as families and within their churches. 
It is the work of representatives of associations, networks and groups of interchurch families in various countries, in a consultation process leading up to the Second World Gathering of Interchurch Families from eleven countries held at the Mondo Migliore Centre near Rome, 24-28 July 2003.  This paper was formally adopted by that conference, after which it was published by the Association of Interchurch Families of Great Britain.

Foundation

The Introduction is worth including in its entirety:

We believe that, as interchurch families, we have a significant and unique contribution to make to our churches’ growth in visible Christian unity. Many people in our churches have told us that we are pioneers. As two baptised Christians who are members of two different, and as yet separated Christian traditions, we have come together in the covenant of marriage to form one Christian family. As we grow into that unity, we begin and continue to share in the life and worship of each other’s church communities. We develop a love and understanding not only of one another, but also of the churches that have given each of us our religious and spiritual identity. In this way interchurch families can become both a sign of unity and a means to grow towards unity. We believe that interchurch families can form a connective tissue helping in a small way to bring our churches together in the one Body of Christ .

The document gives several aspects of this self-understanding, including ways in which the fruitfulness of their gift can be recognized and realized.

When two Christians from different ecclesial communions come together in marriage they already have in common a vast and very rich resource as children of the one Father, disciples of the one Lord Jesus Christ, and recipients of the gift of the Holy Spirit .

Like every other Christian family, an interchurch family represents the Body of Christ in the home, and can, therefore, be described as a domestic church. However, although it is one church at home, the partners remain faithful members of two as yet divided church congregations in their neighbourhood, and two as yet divided ecclesial communions in the world .

Since the primary responsibility for the Christian upbringing and education of children rests with their parents, it is natural that both parents will want to share with their children the treasures of the particular ecclesial communion in which they personally are members.  Yet there is a substantially different experience of belonging to the Body of Christ.  The parents carry in that one coupled person which is the mystical unity of their marriage a sense of belonging to the two churches through which the spouses lived their life of faith. Their children however will normally have been brought up to feel at home in the traditions of both their parents, and as a result carry those same traditions within their one physical body .

Interchurch families are by definition bridge-builders. They are concerned to work in harmony with the ministers and congregations where they worship, in response to Christ’s prayer that they all may be one. In that work, they often find themselves therefore in the tension between the ‘already’ of the unity of their domestic church and the ‘not yet’ of the continuing separation of the two church communities of which they are members .

In addition to the gifts given to all married couples (mutual love, a marriage covenant that supports it and helps it to grow, and a mutual knowledge that can be discovered only through living together in the closest proximity over a very long period), a further gift is given to interchurch couples, namely their mutual insertion and participation in the life of their two church communities. The value of this experience is inestimable .

The committed mutual love of the partners encourages them to explore each other’s church communities. This leads to a growing understanding between them, and includes their respective ways of worship, church life, doctrine, spirituality, authority and ethics.  This immersion in the ethos of a partner’s community can enable a spouse to evaluate the other church in terms of its own language and ways of thought, action and being .

The very existence of interchurch families provides a visible sign of unity to their churches .

Because interchurch couples love one another and bring up their children in that love, they are deeply motivated to enter into one another’s church traditions and so to contribute to the healing of the divisions between their churches and to their growth into unity .

Interchurch families are not a pastoral problem.  Indeed, "[i]f interchurch couples are received in each other’s churches with an understanding welcome, then their interchurch character and commitment can become a gift and visible sign of hope for their churches on their path to unity" .

Interchurch families look for ways to participate in the life of their two communities so that their own two-church gift and calling may be recognised, respected and welcomed. This is not simply for the benefit of the interchurch family itself, but also for the life of their two ecclesial communions .

Because of the couples’ mutual responsibility, pastoral care which concerns both partners or their children should be exercised with both of them present and, when appropriate, their children, and not through one of them as intermediary to the others .

Interchurch families should not be pressed to make a final decision on the baptism and religious upbringing of future children before marriage.  The most that should be required is that the pastor should ascertain that the partner who is a member of their church seriously desires to share his or her faith with his or her children .

Because the mutual recognition of baptism is so fundamental to the ecumenical movement, interchurch families would like to see the churches build on this foundation .

Many interchurch families, particularly where one partner is a Roman Catholic and the other partner a member of another Christian community, experience a serious spiritual need to receive communion together in order to strengthen the spiritual unity of their domestic church .

Interchurch families are greatly encouraged when their ecclesial communions see them not as problems, but as pioneers of Christian unity. They are called to witness by their lives, their actions and their words to the fundamental and growing unity of all Christian people, and to share a common life in the Church for the reconciliation of our churches .

All this and more was expressed in what was to be culmination of decades of careful exploration and discovery by interchurch families around the world, as they “live in [their] marriage the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity” .  Yet what was thought to be a culmination has in fact turned out to be the ground for further work.

Movement

A number of international participants in the 2003 World Gathering in Rome had the opportunity to visit the offices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), where they were warmly received by staff of the Council.  Out of that meeting came the impetus to establish an Interchurch Families International Network (IFIN) to strengthen and expand the international scope of the interchurch families movement.  In addition, the connections made through that meeting proved not only worthwhile at the time, but invaluable for the future, as they led to a meeting in October 2005 between members of the IFIN and some staff of the PCPCU. 

In the course of that meeting, interchurch families were invited to develop an understanding of the term "domestic church" from the perspective of interchurch families, and especially to see if it might provide, for such families and their churches, some insights into a framework of mutual support and encouragement.  A subset of the IFIN, known as the Theological Working Group (TWG), was established to focus on and develop this understanding.  A questionnaire was produced and widely distributed, generating responses from several countries.

In 2006, Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi, professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, produced an "Evaluation of the questionnaire and further suggestions".  One of his observations, while not related to the theme of "domestic church", is of vital importance.  It was that "we should be self-assured and mature enough to set our own agenda, and see afterwards if and how to connect it to any other group or project" .  It is important to remember this.  As we shall see, this same theme will be echoed a year later by Pastor Jean-Baptiste Lipp of Switzerland in his presentation to a conference at Sibiu.

In this document, having reiterated and responded to several questions raised by IFIN participants, Knieps-Port le Roi makes the point that interchurch families should not focus too heavily on belonging to a specific church structure.  As he indicates, "[a]t present many Christians, regardless of denomination, appear to have difficulties in identifying with the institutional churches and are looking for a spirituality that fits their personal needs and expectations" .  If interchurch families find themselves questioning ties with the institutional churches, then, they are by no means alone.  Rather, the project should "(re)discover and spell out in a fresh way what it means to be members of the body of Christ, to be church ourselves" .  He draws the conclusion that we are to start, not from predefined theological and ecclesiological concepts, but from concrete experience.  "[W]e should make an effort to fill in the notion of domestic church and to give shape to it from our daily experiences" .

From this flowed a suggestion that the TWG begin a consultation process within its national groups with the aim of collecting experiences of lived unity in interchurch families; that there be a discussion and exchange about the theological concept of domestic church; that the experience and theological concept be made to challenge each other; and that this would result in a new document in continuation of the Rome paper .

That this was carried out in part but is still awaiting completion will become evident.

______________

Ruth Reardon, who with her husband Martin founded the Association of Interchurch Families in Great Britain more than 40 years ago, responding to the IFIN-TWG Study on Interchurch Families as Domestic Church, gave to the TWG a "on the findings of surveys carried out in England early that year.

One of the key findings was that "we are just the same as other couples and families, united by our faith in Christ and our commitment to one another in marriage" , which is then followed by a list of observations of the similarities.  Another finding was that interchurch families had a clear self-understanding that, while they are the same as other couples and families, they are also different in that "we come from two different churches that are not in communion with one another, and we try to be loyal to both in our marriages and family lives".  There was also a strong sense that God brought couples together, "to marry one another, through all the difficulties that families and church communities and clergy placed in the way of some of us".  There are here two significant ironies.  Marriage, while specifically between two people, clearly incorporates their families and their churches.  Yet it is the families and church communities and clergy which place difficulties in the way of some (perhaps many?) of these couples.  The second irony is that, while needing to work hard at unity in the face of these obstacles, where something so central as Christian faith threatens to divide the couples, they "feel richly blessed".

Couples are one church at home, yet experience their unity also within the context of their families and churches.  These couples need to be affirmed, and to have their legitimate authority as parents accepted and supported, by family and clergy alike. 

Of key importance for family life, they share faith in Christ with their children, and strive to live in their home that one Church of Christ that is both deeper than, and transcends, our divisions.  They have found that when they give their children a sense of rootedness in both their church communities, their children are not confused, but enriched.  This too is a prophetic sign for our churches.  Perhaps through the "Receptive Ecumenism" upon which ARCIC III is embarking the churches will find in the "other" similar blessing and enrichment.

In a telling conclusion to the Report, interchurch families stated "It seems to us that the churches need to relate to one another in the way that married couples do, if they really want to grow into unity".  They then proceeded to give suggestions, based on their own lived experience, for what the churches might do to this end.  While suggestions like "Put faith in Christ first" seem self-evident, they included others which were on a very practical level, e.g. "Focus on what unites", "Experience differences as enrichment", and "Think of others in terms of who they are, not in terms of who you are".  Finally, three stand out in terms of fidelity and commitment, namely "Love one another", "Be committed to unity", and "Be convinced that unity really matters now".  Hopefully, as these suggestions are lived out in their midst through the lives of interchurch families, our churches will begin to recognize the richness they contain, begin living them as their own.

The question begs to be asked:  how can our churches be helped to recognize and live these suggestions?

 ______________

Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi, having provided the evaluation and suggestions, became one of the driving forces in carrying the project forward.  To this end, he prepared and presented several papers on a variety of occasions.  One of the earlier ones was Conjugal and Ecclesial Communion in Interchurch Marriages, presented in 2006 (unpublished).  An enhanced version of this paper was later published in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 44:3, Summer 2009.  We will look at each of these in turn, to see what developments may have taken place in the intervening time.

In the earlier paper, he questions the statement, given that year by Pope Benedict XVI while addressing the member churches of the Polish Ecumenical Council, that the decision to enter an interchurch marriage "can lead to the formation of a practical laboratory of unity" .  It quickly becomes clear that he questions it, not because it is impossible for interchurch couples to be practical laboratories of unity, but because the churches may not allow interchurch couples to do what laboratories are intended for, i.e. invent, experiment, take risks, all in the faith that "there is something worth all the effort – namely the unity of all Christians" .  He further questions whether the findings of interchurch families will be hailed, accepted and received in the Catholic church.

This is a serious critique.  He demonstrates that the position of the Catholic Church vis-a-vis interchurch families, as evidenced in its documents, is of real but imperfect communion – with the emphasis on the imperfection.  Worse still, he demonstrates that, theological understandings aside, the Church acts as though it sees, not necessarily deliberately but by default, the joining of two people in an interchurch marriage not as a domestic church in their own right, but as "the affair of two ecclesial bodies" .  And the imperfect communion of the two ecclesial bodies trumps and is imposed upon the real and lived reality of communion experienced by the couple.

Drawing on the Rome document, Knieps-Port le Roi turns that issue on its head, pointing out that interchurch families see themselves as living in a communion that may be imperfect - though no more or less than that of any other married couple, be they interchurch or same-church - but is nonetheless very real.  It is not the imperfect communion of the ecclesial bodies, but the conjugal and family communion, which is the basis of an interchurch marriage.  And it is their mutual love, their living under the same roof, their sharing of resources, all leading to the ever-deepening reality of the conjugal communion which is their domestic church, which forms the anticipatory vision to which the churches aspire, the prophetic model on which they may grow toward unity.

He expresses the legitimate sadness that the Rome document "fails to refer to the conjugal union as an image of Christ's unity with his church", as it "would have persuaded Catholics more easily that what is described here in terms of marital communion converges with the anthropological underpinnings that Catholic theology requires for sacramental marriage" .  This experience and understanding has been written of elsewhere, but the lacuna in the Rome document means that it missed being foundational for any movement forward.  Interchurch couples and their respective ecclesial bodies are both the worse off for it.

As he points out, "interchurch families report a very particular experience that they characterize as 'mutual insertion and participation in the life of their two church communities' " .  This is not a rejection of their domestic church.  Rather, it is the living out of the gift of their domestic church, such that it helps in "the formation of a connective tissue which supports, connects and heals parts of the Christian body that have been cut or broken in our sinful divisions" .

In closing, he points to two seemingly opposing perspectives.  On the one hand, the churches see full ecclesial communion as a prerequisite to Eucharistic sharing.  On the other hand, interchurch families experience their own communion as an existing reality which anticipates and prefigures that community demanded but not yet achieved between the ecclesial bodies.  Fortunately, the magisterial language of "church" vis-a-vis the domestic unit indicates an analogical relationship between church and the marital home.  This "allows the ordinary and immediate experience of communion in Christ to inform the ecclesial doctrine" .  The relationship would seem to be a mutually informative one.  The question yet remains how the informing can be made truly mutual.

The document Conjugal and Ecclesial Communion in Interchurch Marriages  has some significant additions.  Key among these is the idea that "conjugal communion is a genuine and legitimate form of ecclesial communion and that, on the basis of baptism, neither form of communion may claim precedence nor take priority over another" .  Thus any real movement must take place on the basis of a symbiotic relationship between different equals, rather than the present view that the reality of divided ecclesial bodies trumps the reality of united congugal communions.  Were that to be recognized in magisterial texts as applying to interchurch marriages, their new-found ecclesial status would enable them to live their unity-building status, rather than being "more like pioneers in an unexplored area of ecclesial union that the institutional churches are so far unable to access" .  Knieps-Port le Roi states the ecclesiological question: is one willing to recognize forms of visible unity that are not modeled upon the structural components of coherence that characterize social institutions ?  To this I might add another question:  how can the churches be brought to this recognition, for their own wellbeing as well as that of interchurch families?

______________

In Interchurch Families as Domestic Church: More Real Than Imperfect? written in 2007, I argue that the lived reality of interchurch families demonstrates that their unity does not fall into the real but imperfect (with the emphasis on the imperfect) description of unity between ecclesial bodies, but rather that their unity, if indeed it is imperfect in any way (and even then, no more or less than any same-church couple's unity is imperfect), is in fact more real than imperfect, and should be recognized as such .  However, the most critical question and challenge raised in the paper is not whether or not the unity of interchurch couples is real. 

It is, rather, that while our Scriptures proclaim, the Church believes and teaches, and we interchurch families experience and believe, that in marriage two people through the effective action of God become one, yet that proclamation, that belief and teaching, is today recognized as applying to and being real for interchurch families only in the experience and belief of interchurch families themselves.  For the Catholic church, the consequences of this proclamation, this belief and teaching, do not apply, indeed cannot apply to interchurch couples before the ecclesial bodies have recognized that they are in perfect communion with each other.

I have yet to see any paper, any statement, which demonstrates that the Church has yet come to grips, where interchurch families are concerned, with the ecclesiological implications of what the Scriptures proclaim and the Church itself claims to believe and clearly teaches.  Only when it does so will we interchurch families truly be able to be laboratories of Christian unity, the fruits of our "research" recognized and celebrated.

______________

In September of that same year, Pastor Jean-Baptiste Lipp of of the Reformed Church in Switzerland presented to the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania.  It was entitled Loving the universal Church through a spouse's church .  Married to a practicing Catholic, he recalls two statements which were instrumental in his commitment to the movement of foyers interconfessionelles, that subset of mixed marriages in his country wherein both spouses are active in both their churches.

The first was his wife's statement "I love my church".  This expression of love deeply impressed him, and over time he came to love his wife's love for her church.  And yet, he knew he was marrying her, and not her church.  The second phrase was that given by a pastoral theologian at the University of Lausanne.  It was that "you, as a Pastor, are a representative figure".

For Lipp, however, that latter statement was turned on its head.  He came to see himself, not as a representative of his Reformed church in the world of Catholicism, but as "a representative figure for increasing numbers of parishioners, refusing to accept the current idea that the mixed confessionality of our family is simply a private matter".

He presents also the key dilemma: "We love one another, but we belong to churches that do not love one another!"  It is a shocking statement, perhaps to some extent even unjust, as he says.  Yet it reflects the experience of many interchurch couples.  A statement in section 4 of the Charta Oecumenica speaks explicitly of the commitment of the churches: "Couples in interdenominational marriages especially should be supported in experiencing ecumenism in their daily lives" .  Interchurch families would wholeheartedly agree.  Yet the question, almost a reversal, must be asked: how are interchurch marriages to be supported if their churches do not experience true ecumenism in their daily lives?  Who will lead them to that experience, how, and by whose authority?

Interchurch families, with their experience of love for each other and each other's churches, are perhaps best placed to provide that leadership, though the exact how (beyond living their reality as well as possible) has not yet been adequately explored.  The source of such authority, however, has been well stated by the Austrian Konfessionsverbindenden Familien: "Wir haben die Kompetenz der Betroffen!" or "We have the authority of those who are affected!"  Such an authority, springing from the experience of deep love, should never be underestimated.

Finally, he presents four images of unity, for interchurch families and their churches.  He speaks of Footbridges, and asks whether our churches realise they are linked together by a growing number of families who are footbridges.  He speaks of Islands of reconciliation, and asks whether churches realize how much population movements have broken their traditional lands, and what great opportunity they have if there is a real pastoral encouragement for mixed marriages to become interconfessional families.  He speaks of Explorers, and asks whether our churches are seriously interested in thinking of us as explorers of new possibilities.  Finally, he speaks of Domestic Church, and the fact that we have begun to explore that image as a way forward, for our families and for our churches.  The questions that can be raised about this image are similar for the first three, and still to be answered.

______________

At that same Assembly in Sibiu, Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi presented a paper entitled Are Interchurch Families Domestic Churches? In this paper, he presents first the background to the IFIN project on "domestic church", then raises the question of the value (and costs) of the term, given that "the concept of 'domestic church', although promoted by the official teaching of the RC church, is all but an indisputable one" .  He explores that question through an appeal to the lived reality of interchurch families.

Drawing from the Rome document, he points to a connection between and overlapping of "the most ordinary interpersonal communion in marriage and family life in all its positive and negative aspects", and "the extraordinary and totally unparalleled ecclesial communion, that bringing together two separated church communities" .

Same-church families have a sense, working from their own specific ecclesial paradigm, of what church unity will look like.  As a result, they tend to try "to model themselves on what they understand by church or on what theologically is understood by church" .  Interchurch families have no such blueprint, and so must formulate their own anticipation of that unity, "give it a visible, albeit inchoative, outlook in the very particular way they live their spousal and familial relationships within and across the divided ecclesial bodies they belong to" .

He closes by saying "that the churches need to relate to one another in the way that interchurch families do, if they really want to grow into unity" .

______________

Also in 2007, Knieps-Port le Roi presented, at the VI. Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology Conference in November 2007, a paper entitled Interchurch Families – a Test Case for the "Domestic Church"

He begins by questioning how the concept of domestic church "could be translated into the concrete situation in which families and the Christian church(es) find themselves at present" .  Having raised the concern, however, he then argues "that by accommodating and balancing both the claims of the partner and of the church, interchurch couples form small Christian communities which constantly define themselves in critical and constructive references to the larger church communities to which the partners belong" .  He points also to a converse reality, namely that "the churches concerned are led to acknowledge forms of Christian communities which are not in line with the prevailing understanding of ecclesial communion" .  While I would question the use of the word "led", and suggest "pushed" might be more accurate, it can safely be said that interchurch families, with their inner dynamism of unity within churches divided, cause those churches to find their paradigms tested and challenged, thus opening the door to other possibilities.  He points to two ways interchurch families can serve as an exemplary model, "for same-church families to live their domestic life as an ecclesial reality" and "as a roadmap for the divided churches on their search for forms of church unity" .  That we should not be that concerned to fit interchurch families into a specific paradigm of family life is clear from a comment he also makes, namely that "official discourse ... has not provided a clear answer to two central questions at the heart of the concept of domestic church, namely what exactly qualifies the family to form the smallest ecclesial unity and what type of family is actually required to fulfill this role" .  It will be the dynamic reality of family life which, over time, will enable an official answer to those questions.  Interchurch families have their own part to play in that dynamism, providing "concrete examples of 'good practice' in the domestic church" .  Indeed, referring to the work of L.M. Williams and M.G. Lawler, he points out that while religion can be a "divisive force" in marriage, "it can also be a 'cohesive or bonding force' as evidenced by the positive marital outcomes when the spouses manage to cope with their religious disparities and create a shared religious life" 

For this outcome to be achieved, Knieps-Port le Roi suggests, an "interchurch hermeneutics" is required.  And, in line with his contention that it is the lived reality of interchurch families to which we must turn for guidance, he works with the Rome document, finding within it four competencies for such an hermeneutics.  These relate perhaps to the competency/authority of the affected of which Pastor Jean-Baptiste Lipp spoke.

The first is "to improve knowledge and gain understanding of and respect for the other and his/her religious affiliation" .  This can only be done, however, when one is able to go beyond perceptions and judgments determined by one’s "own values, emphases, use of language and structure of thought”, again quoting from the Rome document.  This requires a second competency, namely the capacity “to overcome such ‘cognitive egocentrism’ and empathize with the other and the other’s church by assuming his/her perspective” .

Beyond that, and having lived under the same roof and in each other’s religious tradition, we come, as the Rome document says, to “realize that all differences are not church dividing, but many are complementary and can lead to the enrichment of diversity” .  This, he says, is a third criterion “the cognitive ability to transcend one’s own and the other’s position and attain a meta-level of perspective from which initially perceived divergences appear reconcilable and new sense is generated”.  This, he goes on to say, “can hardly be overestimated when interchurch families are to develop a shared religiosity rather than leading a religious life in parallel” .

Finally, he speaks of a fourth criterion or competency, namely “self-conscious ethical decision-making and action”.  True interpersonal identity development, he suggests, “requires that a person who has got insight into the relativity of his/her own and the other’s perspective is able to suspend and revise his/her previous reliance on and trust in external sources of authority and the value systems connected to them” .  This requires an informed conscience, especially when what is judged to be right for one’s family life and unity stands in conflict with attitudes and rules of their respective two ecclesial communities.  And an informed conscience requires that maturity and self-assurance earlier referred to.

As Knieps-Port le Roi points out, "satisfying spousal community in the interchurch family cannot be achieved by ignoring or putting aside religious differences but only by working them through" .  Nor can this be done in isolation.  It must be done directly with the two ecclesial communities involved.  "To the extent that this new religious identity is nurtured by and interacts with two ecclesial communities, it has in itself an ecclesial character" .  This interaction demands that interchurch couples not establish a fictive "third church", detaching their domestic church from the ecclesial realities.  At the same time, "the confessional churches are called upon to trust in the unity-building capacity of interchurch and same-church couples alike, even if they do not correspond to the standard models of unity that prevail in the official ecclesiological discourses" 

Herein lies a question and challenge which he does not ask: do our churches not also need to develop these same competencies, if they are to travel the journey to Christian unity?  How can our ecclesial communities be brought to, helped to, nurture and interact with the interchurch families in their midst?

______________

In November 2007, Fr. George Kilcourse, a priest of the diocese of Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A., reported on conversations by the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF) on the topic of "Domestic Church" .  In this, he highlighted what is a recurring issue, namely that the term " 'domestic church' is primarily intended to describe families in which the spouses are both Catholic".  Fortunately, the fact that "both the 'nuclear family' and the 'extended family' are where Christians learn, absorb, and practice the fundamentals of life and faith", provides some resonance for interchurch families.

The report shares a variety of insights.  A common theme is that it is the activities of the family, as family, which create and nurture and strengthen the family unity.  That said, it was noted that the term "domestic" does not always, in the U.S.A., connote a "warm" or necessarily "familial" context.  "We domesticate pets; we hire 'domestics' to clean house, to do laundry, and to cook meals."  It was further noted that the experience of the institutional "church" is different from that of the domestic "church".  Of value was the learning which takes places when spouses come to understand the "foreign" church.  There was also concern at the way people "jump to the conclusion" that the children of interchurch families are merely "generic" Christians.  Several expressed disappointment that many, especially clergy and church leaders, unfairly label interchurch children this way.  A final topic focused on the handing-on of faith, noting that people go through phases in which they may drop or retrieve various dimensions of our interchurch genealogy.  This sense of multi-generational interchurch families as the "domestic church", with its marbling of traditions, religious identities, and values, could prove to be another worthwhile frontier of exploration.

______________

Thomas Knieps-Port le Roi, in Being One at Home: Interchurch Families as Domestic Church, develops a paper presented at the British Association of Interchurch Families 40th Anniversary Conference in Swanwick.

He begins with a historical overview of the term "domestic church".  In this, he quotes from the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem of 1965, Article 11, then says "The family is church in that it does what the church as a whole has to be and to do"   This anticipates the concept of the Church as fractal in form, with the family one more fractal in the overall form, suggested by Dr. Anton Arjakovsky at the conference on The Household of God and the Local Household, held at Louvain in 2010.

While welcoming the idea of "domestic church" as "something new and unparalleled in the history of Christianity", he also raises questions.  "1) What exactly qualifies the family to form the smallest unity of the church? and 2) what type of family is actually required to fulfil this role?"   Is marriage required?  If not, then new forms of committed cohabitation may qualify.  If baptism is sufficient, then the second question needs clearly to be resolved.  Do we move to first-class and second-class domestic churches, those who meet criteria of both baptism and marriage, and those who meet only the first criterion?  Indeed, should we restrict ourselves to the juridical thinking from which these questions come, or should we allow ourselves to be open to the possibilities of the magisterially taught but as yet theologically undefined concept of "domestic church"?  He then proceeds to offer several possibilities in that vein.  These work primarily from the practical and actual, formally recognizing and upholding them as the work of the Church.

Having presented two different perspectives from which to look at faith and church life, Knieps-Port le Roi develops two theses.  The first is that "interchurch families are more advanced than same-church families in adopting a 'domestic church' perspective" .  He argues that "interchurch spouses do no longer take for granted their church of origin with its specific structure of authority, way of worship, church life, doctrine and spirituality.  Unless one of the partners gives up on his or her religious affiliation or the spouses decide to worship in their churches separately, they have to form a religious community of its own right and shape" .

Following an expansion of the competencies he had developed in an earlier paper, he proceeds to offer his second thesis, namely that "[i]nterchurch families offer to the Christian churches an alternative way of coping with their painful divisions" .  He argues that, rather than beginning from existing juridical structures and hierarchies, with their definitions, criteria and standards, a domestic church perspective be adopted.  He quotes from Rosemary Haughton's book The Knife Edge of Experience to provide an indication of what this would look like, suggesting familiar domestic scenes of participation and exclusion that, to quote Haughton, "in a 'proper' church building must seem to others as an act of aggressive defiance, [yet] in a home is scarcely noticeable" .

This is the logic of small communities and families, dealing with the differences and otherness and of its members.  While incorporating such a perspective, one familiar to interchurch families, will require more theological reflection, it is clear that "the churches need to relate to one another in the way that interchurch families do, if they really want to grow into that unity".  He concludes by pointing to the results of the English discussion on interchurch families, already referred to, as providing a "roadmap" for this journey to Christian unity.

______________

Klemens and Elisabeth Betz of ARGE Oekumene in Austria provided a Summary of the ARGE Conference held in Pinkafeld, Austria, 23-25 October 2009 .  They began by questioning whether the concept, not just of "domestic church" but of interchurch families as "domestic church" was "surprising, unusual, presumptuous, exaggerated, appropriate, an expression of our deepest feelings"?

While interchurch unions did not exist in the early church, and so application of the term to them may be unusual, it should not be surprising, for it fits the reality of that same early church.  It is an expression of our deepest feelings, for it enables couples to live Church within the family, in the face of the reality of diminishing numbers of clergy.  Family members are offered the individual (though not individualistic) spirituality of the domestic church, with each person contributing as an active participant according to his or her abilities, in which communal celebration has priority over disciplinary action, and in which children are provided a spiritual education through the example of parents.  This takes place in the myriad events and activities of the everyday.

Echoing Knieps-Port le Roi's thesis that interchurch families offer a way whereby churches can cope with their painful divisions, they indicate that it is enriching for children to grow up in interchurch families, who broaden the experience of spirituality by incorporating the riches of both traditions.  They further propose that churches would benefit, and so bring Christian unity closer, from meeting on an existential level as intensively as interchurch families do, not only talking with each other but living with each other.

Having said all this, they bluntly raise the serious concern, "Unfortunately, the churches do not regard interchurch families as domestic churches.  What will be the consequences if our experiences are permanently ignored by the churches?"

______________

At the conference held in Louvain in 2010, on the topic The Household of God and the Local Household, Peter De Mey, professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, presented a paper entitled How Do Children Become Active Subjects with the Domestic Church? Reflections on a Neglected Subject within Roman Catholic Eccleisological Discourse on the Domestic Church. How Do Children Become Active Subjects with the Domestic Church? Reflections on a Neglected Subject within Roman Catholic Eccleisological Discourse on the Domestic Church.  This paper makes no mention of interchurch couples, yet the questions it raises equally apply there.

He demonstrates that, while the Christian family is said to be a "domestic church", the smallest unit of ecclesial life, and that the entire people of God participates in the priestly life of Christ, as yet there has been little exploration of the role children play.  Only in three documents with global scope, by Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, can he find indications of active participation, though none contain any elaboration.

While he can point to several examples, on regional levels and in individual monographs, of greater specificity and encouragement, the simple fact is that children are generally not perceived, much less spoken of, as active participants, evangelizers within and of the family.  He closes with the statement "[h]opefully, in future monographs on the same theme, we will be able to find more constructive input on how children can become active subjects within the domestic church" .

______________

In the same conference, Dr Bernard Prusak, professor at Villanova University, Villanova, PA, U.S.A., delivered a paper on The Ecumenical Household as Domestic Church?  Ecclesial Threat or Pastoral Challenge and even Resource? Notice that his title is placed in question form rather than a statement.

Prusak begins answering the questions by presenting a solid review of the concept of "domestic church" as expressed in Lumen Gentium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  That base established, he turns to the question itself, but specifically in terms of ecumenical households.  Quoting Heinrich Fries, he notes that such marriages were, in the past, "considered a very great misfortunate that could wound a family and for this reason people of all the Churches were expressly warned about such marriages.  The Catholic Church forbade them in principle and allowed exceptions only with strict stipulations" .  Yet despite this position, the number of inter-confessional marriages has constantly increased, in Fries' Germany as elsewhere.  Prusak then exposes his reason for the question, namely that the official Church's view of such marriages remains ambiguous to this day. Despite such an official position, Prusak proposes "that the lived experience of ecumenical households might further be considered an ecclesial resource for growth toward unity" , and goes on to review selected pastoral initiatives regarding Eucharistic hospitality for interchurch couples.

Speaking of the unity of sacramental marriage, he challenges the status quo of a very limited and exceptional Eucharistic hospitality, by asking "Must such love and unity in an ecumenical family, built upon a sacramental marriage, be deemed secondary to ecclesial unity?"   This, as he demonstrates clearly from the 1967 Ecumenical Directory and an Instruction from 1972, is clearly the position held at the time.  These documents are more legalistic in tone than the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism.

Quoting Avery Cardinal Dulles ("Eucharistic Sharing as an Ecumenical Problem", in The Resilient Church: The Necessity and Limits of Adaptation, Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1973), he states that intercommunion is especially commended by the "grace of showing forth and fostering the partial but growing unity among churches that are as yet imperfectly in communion with one another" .  Prusak draws on Dulles to argue for a greater liberalization of the guidelines for Eucharistic sharing, including allowing the local pastor or celebrant considerable discretion in applying the directives.  It is noteworthy to see how strongly open Dulles was on this issue.

Anyone wanting to have a sense of the breadth and variety of statements made by individual bishops and Episcopal conferences would do well to read Prusak's presentation, as he includes the pastoral initiative by Bishop Elchinger of Strasbourg, in his 1972 Instruction on Eucharist hospitality, that of the Diocese of Helen and Great Falls – Billings in Montana, U.S.A., of 1982, the 1983 Note on Eucharistic Hospitality of the French bishops' Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity, the 1995 Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia guidelines entitled Blessed and Broken: Pastoral Guidelines for Eucharistic Hospitality, the 1996 Guidelines for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A., the 1996 guidelines issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the U.S.A., those of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference in 2003, and the 2008 Pastoral Notes for Sacramental Sharing of the Diocese of Saskatoon, Canada, to name but a few of the many covered.  These range in tone from the very open to the far more exclusionary, indicating that a range of positions can be legitimately appropriated.

Having set the stage in this way, Prusak then argues for a new mindset, that of ecumenical "domestic churches" as ecclesial resources.  Drawing on Karl Rahner, he notes that ecclesial separation exists "only so far as minor groups within them are concerned, groups with a higher degree of theological awareness, and so constituted particularly by officials and theologians".  Prusak observes that people belong to either this or that church because of a long historical line of succession, reasons which could not justify a separation between the Churches.

Rahner proposed the possibility of a Church which was single in institutional terms, yet which upheld a plurality of creeds within that institutional unity.  Prusak proposes that this shared-life experience for such a macro-ecumenical situation is already a feature of ecumenical families.  Finally, quoting Heinrich Fries again, he says "An aid and a solution are possible only when such marriages become more and more a form and expression of Oikoumene in which communality in faith is realized and differences treated with respect.  The partners can and should be mutually enriched.  From confessionally-different marriages there should be more and more confessionally-unifying marriages" .

In closing, Prusak states that "the life of ecumenical families should be a contributing, integral component of ecumenical dialogue.  They are an experiential resource in which an ecumenical relationship is being lived through the unitive sacramental love spouse who with their children form an ecumenical "domestic church" .

______________

Another presenter at the 2010 Louvain conference was Fr. George Kilcourse, with his paper Interchurch Families as Domestic Church: The Improbable Grace.  Working from the ordinary lived reality of interchurch families, he argues that despite their being summarily absented from pastoral care in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) 2009 pastoral letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, they will yet become the cornerstone of a transforming witness among our divided churches.

Kilcourse points out that forty to fifty percent of Catholics in large U.S.A. dioceses are entering what the Catholic Church designates as a religiously mixed marriage .  This makes the ecumenical task ever more complex.  It is surprising, therefore, to see that the Bishops' statement is completely devoid of any reference to pastoral care for or the real gifts of interchurch families, grouping them instead with all religiously mixed marriages.  All it can do is observe what it refers to as "challenges", but gives no indication of how those perceived challenges may be met.  Kilcourse rightly asks whether the term "pastoral letter" is even appropriate for this document.

Even more surprising is the statement's reflection on the place of the domestic church.  Rather than being seen in its own right, such a domestic church receives from the larger church, andreflects the larger church's life.  No mention is made of any reciprocity, any mutual learning and discovery.  In couching its language in those terms, the Bishops have effectively stripped the domestic church (whether interchurch or same-church) of any capacity to contribute spiritually and from its own resources to the larger church.  Having done this to the domestic church, the Bishops immediately focus on same-church couples, because they "most fully reflect the life of the Church, because only Catholic couples can fully participate in the sacraments of the Church, including the Eucharist" .  Not even a nod is given to any possibilities outlined in a key Pontifical document, the 1993 Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.  Again, Kilcourse asks whether the Bishops are " 'tone deaf' when it comes to understanding authentically interchurch families as a full expression of the domestic church" .

Kilcourse does, however, find one bright spot, albeit not in the USCCB statement.  Rather, it is found in the study Ministry to Interchurch Marriages: A National Study, a study of which he was one of the consultants, but which he sharply criticizes for its broad definition of interchurch marriage.  That study indicates that "A small minority [ of interchurch respondents] (12%) was raising [children] in both churches" .  He points out that this is the same segment of interchurch respondents in the study identified with a "high religiosity" score.  He hopes this segment of mixed marriages may increase, and that more nominally religious "mixed marriages" will mature and achieve truly interchurch marriage status.

While a mid-November 2009 letter from the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF) to the bishops, offering the collaboration the bishops called for, had not, at the time of the presentation, been responded to, Kilcourse does not lose hope.  He calls instead for embracing, with the ecumenical trust and faith found in the homes of interchurch families who live as domestic churches, the overarching Catholic principle that the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church.

______________

Still at the same conference, Dr Mary Marrocco, Associate Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches, gave a presentation on The Inter-Church Couple: Witness to Communion within Division. Drawing on the experience of interchurch couples, contributions of couple-dynamic studies in family-systems theory, and some basic concepts of Catholic communion ecclesiology, Marrocco calls for the Christian churches to "even more deeply find ways to assist couples in healing where they have broken, and learn from couples who are working out communion in the most intimate aspects of human life" .

Relating the stories of two couples who came to church but chose not to receive communion when one of them was refused, she asks "What are these couples carrying in such moments of silent tragedy?  Why does their desire to remain together trump their desire to receive communion?"   Not only is such a situation an all-too-often unmet pastoral need, it can also become "an agent of urgency and transformation in the quest for full visible Christian unity" .

Marrocco questions whether, when two Christians of different traditions marry, their marriage results in a collision of churches.  Finding themselves both in communion (in marriage) and out of communion (ecclesially), such couples must work out the meaning of communion in the practical, earthly reality of their day-to-day life – and in the process become witnesses and teachers to their divided churches.  She likewise asks, "If the mystery of marriage ad intra can be said to be the mystery of communion lived out within a couple, how is this communion expressed ad extra, in the larger context in which the couple lives?"   If communion is participation in the life of the divine Trinity (a key patristic concept), then "the summit of communion is participation in the Eucharist" .  Is it possible that the sharing of daily bread that interchurch couples do may bring their churches closer to sharing the Eucharistic bread, and so enter more fully into participation in the life of the divine Trinity? If so, then inter-church couples can become instruments of inter-church communion.

From her work as a therapist, and drawing from the work of therapist David Schnarch, Marrocco sees the couple's communion relationship as involving both flesh and spirit, and every aspect of life.  The mystery of communion enters into the earthiness of daily life, in what becomes a lifetime process.

Having surveyed a group of interchurch couples, Marrocco discovered that "many couples emphasized that the couple relationship itself provided the solid base that helped them carry the church division" .  While, as she states, "this affirmation is a positive witness for the strength of couple communion", it also "implicitly asks the churches what they are doing to help couples carry the burden they did not seek out" .

If the marriage of two persons from differing Christian traditions is indeed a collision of two churches, then those two churches have in that couple a resource for healing the damage of that collision.  Marrocco closes with a series of important questions: "If the Christian marriage opens the couple to the ultimate horizon of participation in the divine life as the real meaning of communion, cannot our Christian churches even more deeply find ways to assist couples in healing where they have broken, and learn from couples who are working out communion in the most intimate aspects of human life?  Can our imperfect communion be made fuller and more complete by receiving the lived witness of interchurch couples?"

______________

Pastor Jean-Baptiste Lipp, already referred to, gave a paper on Interchurch Families : an indispensable microcosm in the macrocosm of the church(es)? in which he presented an "Extract of Ten Arguments For and Against Supporting a Pastoral Ministry to Interchurch Families".  Lipp affirmed that interchurch families are an indispensable microcosm in the macrocosm of the church.

On a personal retreat, he wrestled with the temptation to conclude that Christian unity cannot be left to mere lay people.  He emerged with new confidence that his was a vocation to bring his interchurch family experiences of life, love, and faith into the areas of ecclesiology.  Contrasting the Catholic Church's view that interchurch marriages are problematic with the Reformed Churches' view that the problem no longer exists, he concluded that interchurch families, who live the richness of unity within churches with polar opposite perspectives, have a unique role to play in the future.

______________

I presented Interchurch Families as Domestic Church: Familial Experiences and Ecclesial Opportunities.  This paper was a précis of a larger thesis since accepted by the University of Winnipeg, Canada, in fulfillment of the degree Masters in Sacred Theology.

In it, I queried whether interchurch families, which form a subset of a larger group of mixed marriages, are truly considered "domestic church".  If they are, our churches have a responsibility to serve their pastoral needs.  Our churches are also presented with an opportunity to recognize the gifts these families bring to their churches.

Drawing upon my research and interviews, I demonstrated that such couples grow into interchurch identity and value greater openness to different traditions; they learn about the larger history of Christianity beyond one denomination; they did not realize how much, and often how negatively, their blood and ecclesial families would impact on them, at times threatening to shatter their marital unity; and they discovered an overwhelming need to worship and share in the Eucharist in both their churches.

I suggested several opportunities churches had for easing the journey, and increasing the fruitfulness, of interchurch families in their midst, opportunities for increasing the welcome those families were given.

______________

As the latest entry in the domestic church project, I include my thesis Interchurch Families as Domestic Church: Familial Experiences and Ecclesial Opportunities, the final component in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Masters in Sacred Theology from the University of Winnipeg, 2011.

In this thesis, in which I draw on survey results of the lived experience of interchurch families, I argue that there exists within their lives clear evidence of the marks of the Church, being its unity, sanctity, catholicity and apostolicity, and that they can legitimately be understood as domestic churches in their own right.

I also explore, for pastoral purposes, the reality of funerals for interchurch couples, when the remaining spouse must now negotiate the relations with the "other" church without the presence of the spouse of that Christian tradition to help along the way.

Finally, I present several concrete steps churches could take to fully recognize, call forth and celebrate the gift of unity which interchurch families represent in their midst.

______________

Interchurch families brought to the Leuven conference their own perspectives and observations, as practitioners of the domestic church.  I will attempt to pick up on several.  In brief, interchurch couples felt the concept of the church as fractal, proposed by Dr Antoine Arjakovsky, Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Catholic University of the Ukraine at Lviv, was worth exploring, offering as it does not just a sense of being a small segment of some larger body, but that the fullness of the church – the same pattern of church – is present at every level of the church's life on earth, from the domestic church on up to the world level.  Similarly, rather than seeing themselves, as same-church families tend to do, as small segments in a larger body, interchurch families instinctively relate first and foremost to the Church of Christ.  Our domestic churches participate in the life of the Trinity, as do the larger ecclesial bodies. 

Listening to all the papers and reflecting on them afterwards, one gained the impression that there was a very wide gulf between the idea of the family held by the official Church, as described in recent Vatican documents, and the reality of the family as lived in the world today.  One also felt that the Vatican had no awareness that such a gulf existed.

There was solid interaction between academics and interchurch family practitioners, giving the former a richer substance to their discourse, while helping interchurch couples better grasp the sense the Church has of the sacrament of marriage and its value in the life of the Church.  This might help us to demonstrate more effectively to the Church how an interchurch marriage can be a vocation to both practical and spiritual ecumenism.

Professor Michael Fahey called for a richer communio within the Household of God to which all belong.  While that was certainly encountered in the papers and discussions, we urge the continuation of the conversation between the churches and the entire human family, at all levels of the Church, a conversation in which we seek to be a part.

______________

Synopsis of Questions

I complete this review of documents by presenting the questions they raise. 

How can our churches be helped to recognize and live these suggestions?

  • "Put faith in Christ first"
  • "Focus on what unites"
  • "Experience differences as enrichment"
  • "Think of others in terms of who they are, not in terms of who you are"
  • "Love one another"
  • "Be committed to unity"
  • "Be convinced that unity really matters now"

Is one willing to recognize forms of visible unity that are not modeled upon the structural components of coherence that characterize social institutions? 
How can the churches be brought to this recognition, for their own wellbeing as well as that of interchurch families?
How are interchurch marriages to be supported if their churches do not experience true ecumenism in their daily lives?  Who will lead them to that experience, how, and by whose authority?
Do our churches not also need to develop these same competencies,

  • to improve knowledge and gain understanding of and respect for the other and his/her religious affiliation
  • to overcome such ‘cognitive egocentrism’ and empathize with the other and the other’s church by assuming his/her perspective
  • the cognitive ability to transcend one’s own and the other’s position and attain a meta-level of perspective from which initially perceived divergences appear reconcilable and new sense is generated
  • self-conscious ethical decision-making and action

if they are to travel the journey to Christian unity?  
How can our ecclesial communities be brought to, helped to, nurture and interact with the interchurch families in their midst?

What will be the consequences if our experiences are permanently ignored by the churches?

Must love and unity in an ecumenical family, built upon a sacramental marriage, be deemed secondary to ecclesial unity?

What are these couples carrying in moments of silent tragedy (i.e. being refused communion)?  Why does their desire to remain together trump their desire to receive communion?

If the mystery of marriage ad intra can be said to be the mystery of communion lived out within a couple, how is this communion expressed ad extra, in the larger context in which the couple lives?

Is it possible that the sharing of daily bread as interchurch couples do may bring their churches closer to sharing the Eucharistic bread, so their churches may enter more fully into participation in the life of the divine Trinity?

Can our imperfect communion be made fuller and more complete by receiving the lived witness of interchurch couples?

It is hoped these questions will be taken seriously, and the answers to them prove fruitful in the lives of interchurch families, and in realizing the unity of their churches.  Both interchurch families and the churches of which they are members can find comfort in the fact that interchurch families speak not from hypothetical contexts, but with "the authority of those who are affected".  That in itself is a rich and powerful gift.

Ray Temmerman
879 Dorchester Ave.
Winnipeg, MB  R3M 0P7
Canada
Tel: (204) 284-1147
Fax: (602) 926-0243
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Return to Domestic Church project overview.


This document hereinafter referred to as "IFCU"can be found on the internet at http://interchurchfamilies.org/confer/rome2003/documents/roma2003_en.pdf

"An interchurch family includes a husband and wife who come from two different church traditions
(often a Roman Catholic married to a Christian of another communion). Both of them retain their
original church membership, but so far as they are able they are committed to live, worship and
participate in their spouse’s church also. If they have children, as parents they exercise a joint
responsibility under God for their religious and spiritual upbringing, and they teach them by word
and example to appreciate both their Christian traditions." IFCU, B1

IFCU, A1

IFCU, B2

IFCU, B3

cf IFCU, B4

cf IFCO, B5

IFCU, C1

cf IFCU, C2

IFCU, C3

IFCU, C4

IFCU, D1

IFCU, D2

IFCU, D3

cf IFCU, D5

IFCU, D6

IFCU, D7

IFCU, E

Pope John Paul II, speaking to interchurch families at York, England, 1982

T. Knieps-Port le Roi, Interchurch Families – Theological Working Group: Evaluations of the questionnaire and further suggestions, (Knieps-Evaluations), 2006. p 1.

Knieps-Evaluations, p 4.

Knieps-Evaluations, p 4.

Knieps-Evaluations, p 5.

cf Knieps-Evaluations, p 5.

R. Reardon, Report on the AIF groups, Spring 2007, p1.

T. Knieps-Port le Roi, Conjugal and Ecclesial Communion in Interchurch Marriage, (Knieps-Conjugal-2006) 2006, p 1.

Knieps-Conjugal-2006, p 1.

Knieps-Conjugal-2006, p 2.

Knieps-Conjugal-2006, p 5.

Knieps-Conjugal-2006, p 5.

IFCU, C4.

Knieps-Conjugal -2006, p 1.7

T. Knieps-Port le Roi, Interchurch Marriage – Conjugal and Ecclesial Communion in the Domestic Church in Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Knieps-Conjugal-2009) 44:3, Summer 2009, p 4.

Knieps-Conjugal-2009, p 4.

cf Knieps-Conjugal-2009, p 9.

cf R. Temmerman, Interchurch Families as Domestic Church: More Real Than Imperfect?, 2007.

cf J. Baptiste-Lipp, Loving the Universal Church Through a Spouse's Church,http://interchurchfamilies.org/ifir/2007/ifir07-200710lipp.pdf, accessed 25 Aug 2011

T. Knieps-Port le Roi, Are Interchurch Families Domestic Churches? (Knieps-AIFDC),  http://www,interchurchfamilies.org/ifir/2007/ifir07-201007knieps.pdf, accessed 27 Aug 2011

Knieps-AIFDC, p 5.

Knieps-AIFDC, p 6.

Knieps-AIFDC, p 6.

Knieps-AIFDC, p 6.

Knieps-AIFDC, p 7.

T. Knieps-Port le Roi, Interchurch Families – A Test Case for the "Domestic Church (Knieps-Test), p. 1

Knieps-Test, p 1.

Knieps-Test, p 1.

Knieps-Test, p 1.

Knieps-Test, p 3.

Knieps-Test, p 4.

Knieps-Test, p 6.  cf L.M. Williams , M.G. Lawler, Marital Satisfaction and Religious Heterogamy.  A Comparison of Interchurch and Same-Church Individuals, in Journal of Family Issues 24 (2003) 1070-1092.

Knieps-Test, p 7.

Knieps-Test, p 8.

Citing IFCU, C1.

Knieps-Test, p 8.

Knieps-Test, p 8.

Knieps-Test, p 9.

Knieps-Test, p 9.

Knieps-Test, p 9.

G. Kilcourse, ‘The Domestic Church’: Report on Conversations by AAIF (The American Association of Interchurch Families) for IFIN (Interchurch Families International Network) Research- / Study-Group, November 2007. http://interchurchfamilies.org/dc/DomesticChurchReport-AAIF.html

T. Knieps-Port le Roi, Being One At Home: Interchurch Families as Domestic Church (Knieps-Being), One in Christ, Vol 42 No 2 2008, p 6. http://interchurchfamilies.org/dc/BeingOneAtHome-Knieps-OneInChrist.pdf

Knieps-Being, p 7.

Knieps-Being, p 13.

Knieps-Being, p 14.

Knieps-Being, p 16.

Knieps-Being, p 18.

Knieps-Being, p 18.

K. & E. Betz, Interchurch Families as Domestic Church, Austria 2009. http://interchurchfamilies.org/dc/Betz-ARGEConference.html

P. De Mey, How Do Children Become Active Subjects with the Domestic Church? Reflections on a Neglected Subject within Roman Catholic Eccleisological Discourse on the Domestic Church, in Children’s Voices. Children’s Perspectives in Ethics, Theology and Religious Education (Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum Lovaniensium, 230), ed. Annemie Dillen & Didier Pollefeyt, Leuven, Peeters, 2010, 295-306.

B. Prusak, The Ecumenical Household as Domestic Church?  Ecclesial Threat or Pastoral Challenge and even Resource? (Prusak), 2010, p 2. Awaiting publication

Prusak, p 3.

Prusak, p 3.

Prusak, p 4.

Prusak, p 12.

Prusak, p 13.

Prusak, p 13.

G. Kilcourse, Interchurch Families as Domestic Church: The Improbable Grace (Kilcourse-Grace) 2010Awaiting publication.
 Within those mixed marriages, Kilcourse takes pains to differentiate between authentically interchurch marriage and family life, and nominally "interchurch" relationships, with his focus being on the former.  In the former, each spouse participates actively in her or his particular church, and to various degrees in one another's church, with each spouse taking an active, conscientious role in the religious education of their children, while in the latter the tendency is for one or both parents to drop out of church, with the children receiving religious education from only one parent.

Kilcourse-Grace, p 6.

Kilcourse-Grace, p 8.

Ministry to Interchurch Marriages: A National Study, Omaha, NE: Creighton Univeristy, 1999, p 11.

M. Marrocco, The Inter-Church Couple: Witness to Communion Within Division, Louvain, 2010, p 9. Awaiting publication

Marrocco, p 1.

Marrocco, p 2.

Marrocco, p 4.

Marrocco, p 6, quoting Walter Kasper

Marrocco, p 9.

Marrocco, p 9.

Marrocco, p 9.

   

Daily Word  

‘The French Catholic bishops laid down their conditions for eucharistic sharing in 1983. For admission to communion there must be a “real need” experienced and expressed.  There must be deep and continuing bonds of communion with Catholics – such as are lived in certain interchurch families and in some long-lasting ecumenical groups. There must be an unambiguous faith with respect to the sacrificial dimension of the memorial, the real presence, and the relation between eucharistic communion and ecclesial communion.  There must be active commitment in the service of the unity which God wills.’ from "Two by Two" by Ruth Reardon

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