In an interchurch family husband and wife are committed to different churches - often Roman Catholic and a Christian of another communion. The Association of Interchurch Families began 25 years ago as interchurch families found they needed to support one another. We celebrate our silver Jubilee in the International Year of the Family 1994. We offer a network of support to interchurch families and mixed marriages, and a voice for such families in the Churches.
There are many interchurch marriages. In two-thirds of the weddings which take place in Roman Catholic churches, one of the partners is not a member of that Church. Nobody knows how many of these "mixed marriages" are "interchurch". Pope John Paul said to interchurch families: "You live in your marriage the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity." (York 1982)
Father, Son and Spirit are bound together in a communion of love. This is the kind of unity to which Christian married partners are called, just as it is the kind of unity to which the churches are called. Interchurch married partners have committed themselves to one another in love. They are sacramentally bound together not only in Christian baptism but also in Christian marriage. They are called to grow together in love. Their partnership in Christ is enriched by their differences. They have different gifts to share with one another. Jesus prayed for all his followers: "Father, may they be one, that they may be one in us, that the world may believe". (John 17:21) Interchurch families are called to be one in their marriage - their "domestic church" - just as the churches are called to be one.
In an Interchurch Family husband and wife are jointly responsible for evangelising their children and nurturing them in the one faith of Christ. How can they demonstrate effectively the Good News of the reconciliation of all things in Christ when their churches are divided? There is only one baptism into Christ and his Body the Church. How can families from divided churches witness to the one baptism? Their churches are not yet in communion with one another. Yet interchurch families need to receive Holy Communion together to affirm and build on their unity in Christ.
Many interchurch children have a sense of double belonging. Interchurch families are a pastoral problem for the churches, but also a pastoral opportunity for the churches as they move forward on the pilgrim way towards the Kingdom of God. These families can already be signs of hope, promises of the Kingdom.
And what of the mixed marriages in which only one partner is practising, or neither partner seems very concerned about the faith in which they were brought up? They too have problems at the "crisis moments" - the wedding, baptism, first Holy Communion ... Are they to be driven further away from the churches at these times?
If you are interested in knowing more about the life and work of interchurch families within the various churches, contact the
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