Lisbon's (Anglican) Lusitanian Church Cathedral of St. Paul has hosted a ceremony marking the mutual recognition of baptism among Christian faith traditions in mainly Roman Catholic Portugal.
The signing of a declaration of mutual recognition of the validity of the sacrament of baptism administered in the churches was part of the Week of Christian Unity celebrations at the end of January in the northern hemisphere.
The declaration was signed on January 25, the Lusitanian Church reported on its website.
Present were the presidents and the bishops of Portugal's main churches including Anglican Bishop Jorge Pina Cabral of the Lusitanian Church (Anglican Communion in Portugal), representatives of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.
Roman Catholics make up almost 85 percent of Portugal's 10.5 million people, with Christians from other traditions accounting for between 2 and 3 percent.
These churches acknowledge baptism as a basic bond of unity. They have expressed the hope that this official recognition is a step forward on the path of visible church unity.
Hundreds of worshipers from different churches – including many young people – attended the lively ceremony which was considered "a very encouraging sign for the future of ecumenism in Portugal," the hosting church said on its website.
Bishop Cabral expressed his joy at the signing in St. Paul's Cathedral which was once a Carmelite Church and Convent.
He said the move offered "new opportunities for ecumenical work between the churches in Portugal" and reinforced the Lusitanian Church's commitment to such collaborative work.
The Lusitanian Church is an extra Anglican provincial diocese to the Archbishop of Canterbury who is the spiritual head of the Church of England. It has its Anglican Communion roots coming from the Church of Ireland, the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and Igreja Anglican Episcopal of Brazil.
These churches and their bishops facilitated the consecration of the Rev. D. Antonio Ferreira Fiandor on June 22, 1958. The church is also a member of the Porvoo Communion.
The Porvoo Communion is a communion of 13 mainly northern European Anglican and Lutheran churches. It was established in 1992 by an agreement entitled the Porvoo Common Statement which establishes full communion between and among the churches.
In 1971, The Lusitanian Church in Portugal co-founded the Portuguese Council of Christian Churches, the main ecumenical body in Portugal.