Saturday, February 23, 2013

About as far as ecumenism can go here. . .

This month, in Austin, Texas, representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ signed a document titled “These Living Waters: Common Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism.”

The Catholic Church has long recognized the validity of Protestant baptisms in which the person was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The validity of non-Catholic baptisms was worked out in a dispute between Pope St. Stephen I and St. Cyprian in the third century. In the last ten or fifteen years, however, there were concerns among Catholic bishops regarding Protestant baptisms in which different names were substituted for the Holy Trinity, or in which a method of sprinkling was used that did not achieve any flow of water on the skin. 

My Comments:

This is not exactly new ground but it does represent about as far as ecumenism is going to go with mainline Protestants.  When the high water mark becomes mutual recognition of baptism (from a precedent set some 1700 years before) it points out the limit of the ecumenical reach.  That both sides acknowledge this is amply attested by the fact that such an agreement was made "news." 

Honestly, I really do not know why Rome bothers...  It is not like much more fruit will be born of these discussions.  But... there it is.  Agreement for all to see and note.  And now everyone can go back to ignoring one another...

No comments: