Ecumenical Crisis Arises in France

Reformed Say Non-Baptized May Join in Holy Supper

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PARIS, AUG. 7, 2001 ( The decision by the Reformed Church of France to offer the Holy Supper to the non-baptized was sharply criticized by Catholic bishops who fear the move would sow doubts about the importance of baptism.

The Reformed Christians made their decision during a May synod in Soissons and announced it July 25.

According to Father Christian Foster, secretary of the Catholic bishops´ Commission for Christian Unity, the decision is very serious, because to maintain that baptism is not necessary to receive the Protestant eucharist means to doubt baptism itself.

The decision has caused splits, even within the Reformed Church. Michel Viot, a former Paris Lutheran pastor, has announced his conversion to the Catholic Church in the wake of the proposal´s approval.

Pastor Gill Daude, responsible for the service of ecumenical relations of the Protestant Federation of France, said the decision was taken after two years of study. He said it takes into consideration the fact that many people approach this Christian community in different ways, and they wish to participate in the Holy Supper without being baptized.

In fact, the Reformed community and the Catholic Church have radically different views of the Eucharist, the former viewing it as only a symbol.

Ecumenical dialogue in France between Reformed Christians and Catholics will now have to focus on this fundamental issue, the Catholic bishops´ commission emphasized.

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