The Interchurch Families International Network, a loose network of groups of interchurch families from across the world, has submitted a response to one of the questions posed by the Vatican in its preparatory document – “Does current legislation provide a valid response to the challenges resulting from mixed marriages or interreligious marriages?” Following the circulation of an initial late last year a number of comments were received and a final paper was submitted to Cardinal Baldisseri at the Synod Office in Rome by the co-ordinator of the network, Professor Thomas Knieps of Leuven University in Belgium.
The response, which can be downloaded below, suggests that the working document for the Synod could usefully include a section devoted to the concerns of mixed and interreligious families. It particularly asks that consideration be given to revising the terminology “mixed marriages” when it refers to mixed marriages between baptised Christians and suggests that the term “Interchurch Families” should be recognised as a suitable parallel description to “interreligious families”.
The paper goes on to describe, briefly, the mission of interchurch families and to ask for consideration of four issues that impact on them – pastoral attention to the way in which interchurch couples are prepared for marriage preparation; the need for a pre-nuptial “promise”; support for interchurch families in bringing up their children; and a more explicit statement that interchurch spouses who express a real desire for eucharistic sharing, and who fulfil the criteria for admission, can be allowed to receive communion alongside their Catholic partners on an on-going basis, whenever they are at Mass together.
More information about IFIN:
The formation of the Interchurch Families International Network arose out of the multi-lingual world gathering of interchurch families in Rome in 2003 at which the paper “Interchurch Families and Christian Unity” was adopted. This paper, which can be viewed here, remains the most comprehensive statement of the self-understanding of interchurch families, the contribution they feel they can make to Christian unity, and the kind of pastoral understanding they need if they are to fulfil their potential.