Calling the churches to the goal of visible unity

As in the beginning, and throughout 27 years of development, this website does not carry any paid advertising. The purpose of the site remains as it has always been: to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith, one baptism, and one eucharistic fellowship. This is the vision expressed in the Faith & Order documents of the World Council of Churches, in the Second Vatican Council, and in numerous ecumenical texts produced in the 20th and 21st centuries.

In addition to an uncompromising commitment to the goal of visible unity, this website also witnesses to two other important ecumenical principles: that Christian unity is an ecclesial gift; and that the search for Christian unity is an integral aspect of Christian discipleship. The first of these principles means that ecumenical engagement always implicates our churches, it is a communal enterprise, and it is not primarily about indulging our personal curiosity. The second principle reflects the source of the ecumenical task, the very mission of the church. In baptism and in public profession of faith, we share in the church’s mission: to free the prisoners, comfort the dying, bind up the wounded, and care for the poor; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, the Good News of salvation, to baptize all nations, to teach all that Christ has commanded. The ecumenical movement is bound up in Christ’s mission: to reconcile all people to God.

Finding French content on the website

Have you ever been to a website which has a splash screen with English and French links? Almost all websites at the time required a selection on the first screen to choose the language. From then onwards their sites were unilingual. Essentially they were hosting parallel sites on the same platform. The result is that users who wish to use one language might never encounter material available solely in the other language. Since I envisioned having most of my material in one or the other language, and very little in both, I needed another solution.

The current practice of the site has been in place since 2003. Whenever there is material on the site that is available in both languages it will be tagged with a hidden language code: class=”fr,” for example. On every page there is a language link (see the upper right corner of the page). If the French link is clicked, the text coded with class=”en” will be hidden and text with class=”fr” will be displayed, and vice versa. The site does not presume that English is the default language. Instead, the user’s browser language is determined and used to make the initial selection. So long as the browser is properly configured, the website will accurately select the preferred language. A cookie is placed on the user’s browser to ensure that future visits will follow the preference that has been indicated.

I am not as fluent in French as I would like to be, and so I depend on online translation tools to produce the French version of the website navigation or other essential text. Occasionally this has produced some incorrect translations, for which I am very sorry. I have found that French website navigation instructions have changed considerably since I began.