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This article was published in the January 2004 issue of The Journal.

Anglican Greetings

The Gathering was delighted to receive letters of greeting both from the Archbishop of Canterbury and from the Cochairs of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). The letter from IARCCUM was delivered by its Anglican Co-secretary, Canon Gregory Cameron, Director of Ecumenical Affairs at the Anglican Consultative Council, and the letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury was read by Gregory’s wife Clare, who is a Roman Catholic.

A Letter of Greeting from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the families gathered at Villa Mondo Migliore for the Second World Gathering of Interchurch Families

I have known about the Association of Interchurch Families in the United Kingdom for some time, and the careful work it does to support and inform families who live out the joys of a family life rooted in love and mutual commitment alongside the pain of our ecumenical divisions. It is a particular pleasure therefore to send you my greetings as the Association joins with its sister organizations across the globe to meet in the Second World Gathering of Interchurch Families in Rome this summer.

Doubly blessed

In family life, you are already experiencing the profound privilege of nurturing the lives of children and young people in the hope that, with God’s grace, they will grow up to be whole young people, enriched and supported by Christian faith, and the inheritance which our churches offer to them. We might even speak of your children as being doubly blessed, as they grow up able to draw on the strengths and wisdom of not one, but two Christian traditions.

You will know more keenly than most, however, that this is a double-edged inheritance to which you succeed. You bring a diversity of worship and the richness of two spiritual traditions into the life of one family, and you also need to balance your loyalties to both churches, as you seek to bring up your children in a faith that will commend itself to them as a basis for their lives.

Practical succour and support

In sending you my greetings, I want you to know that I believe that all the churches have a particular duty of care to families who live out the ecumenical endeavour in the way which you do. I hope that the work of such bodies that engage in formal dialogue between two traditions, such as the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, will offer you succour and support of a practical and direct kind

I send you my warmest good wishes for your meeting - may God encourage and inspire you as you meet together, and bless you in your ministry to the wider churches in showing us that we can live and work together in unity in the most intimate of settings.

+ Rowan Cantuar

A Letter of Greeting from the Co-Chairs of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

To live and to grow in a loving family is probably one of the richest gifts that we can experience in human life and we salute every one of you as each family represented at the Conference seeks to grow into the fullness of life that Christ wills for you as a family.

You have been called by God’s grace and through the commitment of individual men and women to marriage and family life into a special vocation to nurture and care for each other. This is a task which in fact goes beyond the limits of your blood relations, to the relationships which you are renewing or making at this time with each other, and ultimately to the life of the whole Christian family.

Pastoral understanding and action for interchurch families is included in our mandate

One of the main duties of the Commission which we chair together is to translate the fruits of ecumenical conversations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion into practical action. When the Conference of Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops, meeting in Mississauga in 2000, established the Commission, they included in its mandate a specific charge ‘to examine the range of possible ways, within current canon law provisions, to deal generously and pastorally with situations of interchurch marriages involving Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

In our work, we have not taken this charge lightly, and we bear in the forefront of our thinking the concern in both our churches to offer a ministry of support and care to all who live out their Christian calling in a family life which contains different denominational allegiances.

Patience and hard work

There may be times when you feel disappointed about teachings which seem to get in the way of your shared discipleship, but we ask you to be patient. The path to the unity of Christians is not easy, and rushing the process will not help to create a firm and durable unity of life and mission in which we can fully respond to God’s call. For our part, we assure you that we will be working hard to attend to the spiritual need of nurturing your family lives in the best and highest ways possible, for in your commitments to each other as families, we see the foretaste of the unbreakable commitment that Christ has for his Church, and for the unity of the Church, for which we all pray.

Good wishes then to you from all the members of IARCCUM, and may your family lives be blessed and enriched by Christ’s presence and grace.

Signed on behalf of the Co-chairs, John Bathersby, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, and David Beetge, Anglican Bishop of the Highveld, by Don Bolen and Gregory Cameron, Co-secretaries