NZs Lutheran and Catholic churches make baptism agreement

NZ Catholic Newspaper

The Lutheran and Catholic churches in New Zealand have approved a statement recognising the unity of each other’s baptisms.

The baptism agreement is the first major work of New Zealand’s Roman Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue Commission.

The Commission has held regular meetings since being created by Lutheran Bishop Mark Whitfield and Cardinal John Dew in 2017 during a commemoration service (see image).

2017 marked the 400th anniversary of the Reformation of European Christianity that began in 1517, when Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg, Germany.

The Commission’s tasks aim to help the Catholic and Lutheran Churches in New Zealand meet five commitments to:

  • begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division in order to strengthen what is held in common even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced.
  • let themselves continuously be transformed by the encounter with the other and by the mutual witness of faith.
  • recommit themselves to seek visible unity, to elaborate together what this means in concrete steps, and strive repeatedly toward this goal.
  • jointly rediscover the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ for our time.
  • witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.

The Commission has been studying Baptism as a sacrament that unites Christians in the grace of God.

“Catholic and Lutheran baptismal rites have much in common, and this work is a welcome opportunity to learn from each other’s practices,” says Whitfield.

Dew agrees, saying it “honours our commitment to seek the unity that draws us together, to be transformed by our encounter with one another, and to promote further expressions of our unity across our churches.

“The Catholic and Lutheran churches can learn from one another and speak with a common voice on issues of concern in modern society, with the conviction that they share one baptism and one faith.”

While there are differences in understanding and emphasis between the two churches, the Commission’s statement notes:

“Catholics and Lutherans both assert that through baptism a person becomes a member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

“A parent couple that includes both a Catholic and a Lutheran partner are encouraged to bring their child for baptism in the church of their choice. They may seek to have both of their pastors/priests participate in the baptismal service.

“Christians are encouraged to speak of being baptised into the Christian church, into the Christian faith, or into Christ.

“They may say that they were baptised in the Catholic or Lutheran church but are discouraged from saying that they have been baptised Catholic or baptised Lutheran.”

There are several Lutheran parishes in New Zealand.

The statement made no comment on Lutheran eligibility as preference students in Catholic schools.


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News category: New Zealand.

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