Catholic News Service reports that US bishops approved an historic document recognizing baptisms from four Protestant Churches.
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In what Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta called "a milestone on the ecumenical journey," the U.S. Catholic bishops affirmed an agreement to recognize baptisms in four Protestant church communities. By a 204-11 vote Nov. 16 in Baltimore, the bishops approved the "Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism," which was drawn up over the past six years by a team of scholars from the Catholic-Reformed dialogue group, made up of representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ. Archbishop Gregory, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said in a statement after the vote that the agreement "will allow Catholic ministers to presume that baptisms performed in these communities are 'true baptism' as understood in Catholic doctrine and law." He added: "The presentation of a baptismal certificate by Reformed Christians who wish to come into full communion with the Catholic Church, or to marry a Catholic, assures Catholic ministers that the baptism performed by a Reformed minister involved the use of flowing water and the biblical invocation of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit." While other bishops' conferences around the world have entered into similar agreements with Protestant communities in their regions, the document is unprecedented for the U.S. Catholic Church.