The proposed Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism is the result of six years of study and dialogue between the bishops’ representatives and the Presbyterian Church-USA, the Reformed Church in America, the Christian Reformed Church, and the United Church of Christ.
“The U.S. bishops stand at an important juncture in affirming the unity that Christ has given to the baptized members of his body, a unity that is ever fragile and always in need of support from the pastors of the Church,” according to Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, chairman of the ecumenical committee.
The proposed agreement would hold that baptism is to be performed only once in a person’s lifetime, and that it be performed by an authorized minister, with flowing water and the employment of the Scriptural Trinitarian formula of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Although other bishops’ conferences around the world have established similar mandates, this is the first of its kind in the U.S.
Also up for the bishops to consider at the November assembly is the request of the Pro-Life Activities Committee to begin drafting a brief policy statement against physician assisted suicide.
The prelates will also address the Church’s response to the earthquake in Haiti.
Other items for discussion during the Nov. assembly include the work of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, an informational update on World Youth Day 2011 and the needs of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.
Additionally, the bishops will receive a formal introduction of Professor John H. Garvey, the new president of Catholic University of America.