Leaders of Catholic and Reformed churches have signed an agreement to recognize each other’s sacraments of baptism, a public step toward unity among groups that are often divided by doctrine.
“Baptism establishes the bond of unity existing among all who are part of Christ’s body and is therefore the sacramental basis for our efforts to move towards visible unity,” reads the “Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism.”
The document was signed, after seven years of discussion, at a worship service Tuesday (Jan. 29) at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin, Texas, which opened the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together in the USA, an ecumenical network created in 2001.
Signers represented the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Roman Catholic Church and United Church of Christ.
While most of the Reformed denominations already recognized Catholic baptisms, the statement puts an official stamp on mutual recognition of baptisms by each of the church groups. The document calls for extending invitations to each other’s baptism ceremonies and attesting to individuals’ baptisms when a church requests documentation.