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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Catholics and Protestants move towards mutual recognition of baptisms

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and four Reformed ecclesial communities-- the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Presbyterian Church-USA, the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ-- are moving towards an official recognition of one another’s baptisms. Inspired by the theology of John Calvin, the Reformed communities arose in the sixteenth century.

The seventh round of the official Catholic-Reformed dialogue in the United States, which concluded on October 8, produced two documents: “These Living Waters: Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism” and “This Bread of Life” (on the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper). The latter document explores the convergences and divergences of Catholic and Reformed teaching on the Eucharist.

At its November meeting, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will decide whether to approve the common agreement on baptism.

“Such a common agreement was first proposed by Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity in 2002,” according to a USCCB press release. Even earlier, in 1993, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity’s Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism stated:
Read the rest here.

12 comments:

The young fogey said...

Not so bad. Rome hasn't compromised anything; it's always recognised water baptism in the name of the Persons of the Trinity. I question the purpose of such a pointless document... giving the Protestants false hope that Rome will recognise them as true churches and end up a Protestant denomination like them?

Igumen Gregory said...

I am anything but enthusiastic about this news. So many liberal protestants along with some liberal RCs are not even using the correct Trinitarian Formula. I recall the Vatican requiring certain Australian clergy to redo the Baptisms because they had improvised a Feminist formula. Frankly, with some notable exceptions, I baptize all Protestant converts unless they can prove to me that matter and form were consistent with Orthodox standards.

The young fogey said...

I naturally assumed this redundant agreement would be based on the official service books of the UCC (Congregationalists), Presbyterians and (Dutch) Reformed in which the formula for baptism is still orthodox. Rome can't accept anything else.

Anonymous said...

I think the RC Church should be careful about accepting the UCC baptisms. If they haven't been to a UCC church lately they may want to visit just to make sure they're worshiping the same God before they do anything about baptism.

Neil Parille said...

Has the Catholic church ever found a protestant church that it considers too liberal to dialogue with?

The Archer of the Forest said...

UCC: Unitarians Considering Christ.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Aside from Mormons and those who don't use the Trinitarian formula, I am hard pressed to think of any groups whose baptisms Rome won't accept. I concur with Igumen Gregory's post above. With a very few exceptions I think Protestant baptisms should be treated as suspect until proven otherwise. And I would under no circumstances accept any Episcopal baptisms performed in the last 25 years or so. By any reasonable standard TEO is not a confessionally Christian body.

The Holy Mysteries are are not magic. Right formula + right matter does not = sacrament.

The Archer of the Forest said...

Out of curiosity, what "matter and form" criteria would need to be met in this instance?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Archer,
As far as I know the RCC gives the presumption of "validity" to baptisms where the subject is immersed or has water poured over their head and the Trinitarian formula is pronounced. The RCC also accepts as "valid" baptisms performed by anyone, including non-Christians.

In ICXC
John

The Archer of the Forest said...

I was speaking in terms of what the Orthodox church in your opinion would require in terms of proof.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Archer,
The Orthodox position is that there are no sacraments outside the Church. When converts are received into the Church who have previously received a non-Orthodox baptism there are a couple of ways it can be handled. The normative method by which converts are received is through Holy Baptism, Chrismation and then reception of Holy Communion. However in those cases where the non-Orthodox baptism was performed in the same manner and with the same intent as an Orthodox baptism, then the priest may (with the blessing of his bishop) exercise Oikonomia and allow the convert to be received through the sacraments of Holy Confession and Chrismation. The theory being that whatever was lacking in the non-Orthodox baptism would be supplied or repaired by the grace of Holy Chrismation.

A detailed discussion of all this is beyond the scope of a comment here. However I think you will find a good treatment of it by Patrick Barnes in his book "The Non-Orthodox" (pages 30-37) which is linked in the sidebar of the blog.

In ICXC
John

The Archer of the Forest said...

Thank you, I will take a look and that and consider it.