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An Initial Response

ISSUED 31 MAY 1995

from the Association of Interchurch Families

1 The Association of Interchurch Families welcomes the encyclical Ut Unum Sint, in which Pope John Paul II re-echoes the "impassioned commitment" made by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council to the call for Christian unity. We are grateful for the urgency with which Pope John Paul II calls for continued progress along the path of unity and communion, "a path which is difficult but so full of joy". This sense of urgency is shared by those interchurch couples who find that church divisions hinder them in their mission as partners and as parents, and who live in their marriage this difficult but joyful path to unity.

2 We are especially encouraged that Pope John Paul has expressed his own joy "to note that Catholic ministers are able, in certain particular cases, to administer the ... eucharist ... to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic church hut who greatly desire to receive (it), freely request (it) and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to (it)."(46) Some couples have suffered a great deal when they have been separated at the eucharist. We have been happy that admission to Catholic communion for the other Christian partner has been allowed in some particular cases on the conditions set out in this paragraph.

3 We note that this expression of joy comes in the context of the "burning desire" expressed by Pope John Paul II that all Christians may be able to join in celebrating the one eucharist of the Lord, and as an Association we reaffirm our commitment to pray and work for the full visible unity which will make this possible for all.


The relevant passage from the Encyclical reads:

45. Certainly, due to disagreements in matters of faith, it is not yet possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic Liturgy. And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so "with one heart". At times it seems that we are closer to being able finally to seal this "real although not yet full" communion. A century ago who could even have imagined such a thing?

46. In this context, it is a source of joy to note that Catholic ministers are able, in certain particular cases, to administer the sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church hut who greatly desire to receive these sacraments, freely request them and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to these sacraments. Conversely, in specific cases and in particular circumstances, Catholics too can request these same sacraments from ministers of Churches in which these sacraments are valid. The conditions for such reciprocal reception have been laid down in specific norms; for the sake of furthering ecumenism these norms must be respected.*

Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 8 and 15; Code of Canon Law, Canon 844; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Canon 671; PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directory for the AppIication of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism(25 March 1993), 122-125, 129-131, 123 and 132: AAS 85 (1993), 1086-1087, 1088-1089, 1087 and 1089.


Daily Word  

‘An interchurch pre-marriage course tries to promote understanding between the couples, their families, and their respective churches.’ Mary Miller in "Pre-Marriage Courses"


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