On November 16, 2010, the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops ratified a Common Agreement on Mutual
Recognition of Baptism with four ecclesial communities of the Reformed
tradition. The Common Agreement was the result of six years of study and
consultation by Catholic and Reformed scholars during the seventh round of the
Catholic-Reformed Dialogue in the USA. The dialogue has been co-sponsored since
1965 by the Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs along
with the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Presbyterian Church -
USA, the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ.
The key provision in the Common
Agreement is that only those baptisms which are performed "with flowing
water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"
will be considered valid by the signatories. Proof of baptism will be
accomplished by the use of common wording on baptismal certificates for baptisms
performed after the effective date of the agreement.
While other episcopal conferences around
the world have similar agreements with Protestant communities, this is the
first such agreement into which the USCCB has entered. At present, the Common
Agreement has been ratified by the USCCB and the Presbyterian Church - USA. The
Christian Reformed Church in North American, the Reformed Church in America and
the United Church of Christ will consider the Common Agreement at their
respective synods this summer.