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The Spring 1994 number of the French review Foyers Mixtes, published at Lyons, is almost entirely devoted to ecumenism. We have translated from it two short articles in which members of interchurch families reflect on the link between such families and the whole movement towards Christian unity.

These articles were published in the Summer 1994 issue of The Journal.

Interchurch Families and Christian Unity:

Ecumenism ­ with others

The ecumenical movement which is drawing different Christian communities together is much larger and wider than anything interchurch families themselves can do.

As interchurch families, we are very concretely confronted in our family life, our spiritual life, by choices we have to make really very difficult choices ­ because of the divisions of the churches. But the root of the problem is exactly that: the churches are.divided today, and that division contradicts the heart of the gospel message.

Salvation ­ God's love ­ is for everyone, whatever their background, race, or culture, and not for a small number who have to separate themselves off from everyone else. In reaching out to us God requires us in our turn to recognise everyone as brothers and sisters in Christ ­ this being so, how much more are we required to acknowledge those who are believing Christians.

It is difficult to conceive how Christians and Christian communities can exclude one another in the very name of Christ. The ecumenical task of coming together is thus required by Christian teaching, by our faith itself.

In the end interchurch families are only a special category of Christians who are confronted more concretely than others by Christian divisions. They are of course grateful for all the help offered "to make life a bit easier for them": mutual recognition of baptism; of marriage; possibilities of sharing communion ... But this does not go to the root of the problem.

Ecumenism requires on­going personal and community conversion; it is a requirement for every Christian, for every church on pilgrimage, always and endlessly seeking to purify and renew its faith.

Interchurch families are ready to play their part, to contribute to the great task, but side by side with others and in concert with others.

Jean-Robert Baise

Ecumenism­ not just for us

Ecumenism shouldn't be something we do on top of everything else (don't our church leaders at all levels say too often: "With everything I've got to do already, I can't add on ecumenism as well!"). We should be ecumenical in everything we do, not on top of everything else we do. The proof: an interchurch couple doesn't act ecumenically ­ it is ecumenical by its very existence, by the strength of its love ­ and that is important, for without love (without intimate knowledge) there will be no unity; there will still be too much mistrust between our communities.

Ecumenism is not a requirement born of the growing number of mixed couples within our churches ­ to make their lot a happier one! It is what Christ wants for us ("to be one") for an immensely important reason ­"so that the world may believe". The church has a heavy responsibility, for if the world does not believe, Christian divisions must have a share in the reason. Why wear ourselves out in being active witnesses unless the very basis of our activity is that ecumenical spirit which is linked with the conversion, the salvation, of the world?

Interchurch couples don't want ecumenism just for themselves, but they want to be ecumenical with all their communities in response to that fundamental vocation: "to be one so that the world may believe".

Sometimes interchurch couples are told that they do wrong in the way that they have to (or allow themselves to) live with regard to church rules (especially over eucharistic sharing). But should we not ask ourselves whether it is rather the churches which do wrong in failing to be ONE even while they make rules for those "exceptional cases" in which eucharistic sharing is allowed?

Francoise Deblock 

This article was published in the Summer 1994 issue of The Journal.