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Greetings from the Bishop of Townsville, and 
Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, 
Michael Putney 

I regret that I cannot join you and other delegates at the Interchurch Families International Conference in Newcastle in August this year. Unfortunately I will be Cologne with a delegation of young people from my diocese to World Youth Day. I am happy to say that our diocese will be represented at the conference by Giordano & Annette Laguna.

Your conference is very important for two reasons.

Firstly, Interchurch families bear the pain and the difficulties of the division between Christian churches in a more intense way than most other Christians. Therefore they deserve the support of their churches and whatever assistance and encouragement can be given. Secondly, they are also a gift to the ecumenical movement. The experience of Interchurch Families is both a source of inspiration and education and a constant challenge to those involved in the ecumenical movement. For these two reasons, your conference will be a very important contribution both to the ecumenical movement and also to the pastoral care which we hope Australian churches will increasingly offer to Interchurch Families.

I pray that God will bless your conference and each of the delegates.

Bishop Michael Putney
President, Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations