WelCom November 2021
Catholic and Lutheran churches in Aotearoa New Zealand have approved a statement recognising the unity of each other’s baptisms. The statement – Baptised Together in Christ – will be especially helpful for families wanting to baptise their child where one parent is Lutheran and the other Catholic.
The baptism agreement is the first major work of the Roman Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue Commission. The commission has held regular meetings since being created by Lutheran Bishop Mark Whitfield and Catholic Cardinal John Dew in 2017. It was set up that year as part of New Zealand services marking the Reformation of European Christianity that began in 1517, when Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg, Germany.
Bishop Whitfield says: ‘Catholic and Lutheran baptismal rites have much in common, and this work is a welcome opportunity to learn from each other’s practices.’
Cardinal Dew says: ‘This statement 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 statement says: ‘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.’
Acknowledging there are differences in understanding and emphasis between the two churches, it adds, ‘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.’
The statement also says: ‘Christians are encouraged to speak of being baptised into the Christian church, into the Christian faith, or into Christ. They may say they were baptised in the Catholic or Lutheran church but are discouraged from saying that they have been baptised Catholic or baptised Lutheran.”
Members of the dialogue commission are Pastor Jim Pietsch, Assistant Bishop LCNZ (chair); Fr Tom Rouse, St Columbans Mission Society (secretary); Fr James Lyons, Parish Priest Emeritus; Sr Kathleen Rushton, Sisters of Mercy; and Dr Petrus Simons, lay member LCNZ.
The statement is online at: www.catholic.org.nz/assets/Uploads/1-Final-Baptised-in-Christ-web.pdf
A Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical service to celebrate the statement is being held on Sunday 28 November, 5pm, St Paul’s Lutheran Church, 12 King St, Mount Cook, followed by a Fellowship Tea. Please bring finger food to share. RSVP with numbers planning to attend to email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ph: 021 022 99380.