By a Staff Reporter
The problems of intercommunion, the children's education and family prayer are all discussed in a booklet, "Two-Church Families," prepared by 30 mixed-marriage couples, published this week.
More than half the Catholics in southern dioceses marry nonCatholics, and the difficulties this can lead to when the other partner is a sincere Christian of another denomination can be very divisive.
The Rev. Martin Reardon, subwarden of Lincoln Anglican Theological College and his Catholic wife, Ruth Page, editor of the quarterly magazine One in Christ were among the founders of the Association of InterChurch Families in 1968, which has published the booklet — its first.
Intercommunion is one of the most controversial topics raised in the booklet and some couples practise it when not in their home parish or at house Masses.
Some couples do not approve of it; others insist on the priest knowing one partner is nonCatholic. Some priests refuse to give Communion at the altar rail; others, it is said, "make the nonCatholic very welcome."
"The Association has no general ruling on the subject," Mr. Reardon said, "but we have asked that inter-Church couples be treated as cases of spiritual need."
Last year the Vatican Secretariat on Christian Unity ruled that intercommunion was permissible in specially defined cases of need.
Mrs. Mary Crowshaw, an Association Inter-Church member who lives at Amersham, Buckinghamshire, said attitudes towards intercommunion differed in different Catholic dioceses, and whether or not one could have it often "depended on the way one asked for it,"
The Church of England has recently made it possible for all who are accepted communicants of other Churches to be given Communion.
The booklet says: "The history of marriages with Roman Catholics has been an unhappy one, and we cannot now, because things are easier, simply ignore the past, the attitudes from which it arose, the resentments to which it gave rise."
At a Nuptial Mass, "either bride or bridegroom is most painfully separated at the moment of their union, or neither side receives Communion, while some other members of the 'Catholic' side do," it states. "Either situation seems intolerable."
In choosing a denominational school, the couple will have to decide whether it would "undo the experience of Christian unity they have laboured so hard to create in the home."
The authors find: "Too often in mixed marriages one partner has submitted with some lasting resentment to the closed position of the other, and this has deeply injured their personal and Christian union."
In a questionnaire answered by 33 couples it was found that most did not pray as families at home. The authors urge a development; of a tradition of family prayer agreeable to all — "a way of worship not of this Church tradition or that Church tradition, but of our family."
With a membership of about 200 couples meeting locally and once a year nationally, the Association of Inter-Church families, whose annual conferences are addressed by Church leaders of all denominations, is dealing with an urgent problem.
Mr. Reardon said a recent meeting heard American statistics showing that mixed' marriages were more likely to break up.
• 'Two-Church Families," published by the Association of interChurch Families, 23 Drury Lane, Lincoln. (25p plus postage.)