Catholics, Reformed Christians Publicly Sign Historic Agreement To Recognize Each Other’s Baptisms

February 1, 2013 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON—Representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and four Reformed Christian denominations publicly signed an agreement on baptism, January 29, in Austin, Texas. The agreement affirmed that all of the churches involved recognize the validity of each other’s baptisms.

The signing took place at the opening of the annual meeting of the ecumenical association Christian Churches Together (CCT), which includes over 40 Christian communions and groups. Each member group received a copy of the agreement, which Catholic and Reformed leaders hope will encourage them to consider how and whether they too will respond.

 “There has already been a strong response from CCT members who have said this represents healing,” said Oblate of Saint Francis De Sales Father John Crossin, executive director of USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. “In the past, there has been much confusion, and even pain, over the failure to reach an understanding on this question. Our hope is that this would be a model for similar agreements.”

 “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,” said Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

The Common Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism is the result of the seventh round of the Catholic-Reformed Dialogue in the United States, from 2003-2010, which found that the agreed 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 other episcopal conferences around the world have similar agreements with Protestant communities, this is the first such agreement into which USCCB has entered.

The signing, which occurred during a prayer service at St. Mary Cathedral, included the Presbyterian Church-USA, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ.

The U.S. bishops voted to accept the agreement at the annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore in November 2010. In 2011, members of the Catholic-Reformed Dialogue privately signed the agreement. The January 29 signing was a ceremonial representation of the growing unity between Christians and the progress of the ecumenical movement.

More information on the Common Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism is available online:


Keywords: Catholic Church, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. bishops, Bishop Denis Madden, Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Austin, Common Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism, validity, sacrament, formula

# # # # #

Don Clemmer
O: 202-5413206