U.S. Catholic bishops and four Reformed Christian denominations — Presbyterian Church-USA, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ — signed an agreement this week to recognize the validity of one another’s baptisms.
The Christian groups agreed, according to a news release, that the “formula for a valid baptism is that it include flowing water and be performed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
While Catholic bishops in other countries have already made similar deals with Protestant communities, this is the first such pact for the American church.
The accord marked the culmination of discussions that began in 2003, the release said. It was signed Jan. 29, during the annual meeting of the ecumenical association Christian Churches Together (CCT), which includes more than 40 Christian communions and groups.
“We are overjoyed at this historic recognition of one another’s baptism and are committed to move forward in a new round exploring a common vision of the church,” Catholic Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said in the release.
Though the Mormon form of baptism fits the required formula, neither the Catholic Church nor the Presbyterian Church-USA accepts the validity of an LDS baptism. At the same time, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not recognize any other faith’s baptismal rite, arguing that no other church has that authority.
Peggy Fletcher Stack