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Roman Catholic-Christian Reformed

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  1. Heidelberg Catechism Q. and A. 80 and the Roman Catholic Eucharist (2004)

As a bi-national church with about 25% of its members in Canada, the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) invited the CCCB’s Ecumenism Commission to respond to the Report of its “Committee to Clarify the Official Doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church Concerning the Mass”. A few theologians were consulted and the Commission developed its response over the course of two meetings. Members of the CRCNA expressed appreciation for the response which they found to be clear and helpful. At their request, the Commission named three representatives to participate in a meeting with representatives of the CRCNA and the USCCB on August 17-18, 2001, in Washington D.C. The results of this meeting were integrated into a report submitted by CRCNA representatives to their Synod in 2002.

Following the 2002 Synod, the Report was sent the USCCB and the CCCB requesting “their agreement that the report gives an accurate presentation of the official Catholic teaching regarding the sacrament of the Eucharist.” This confirmation was received from the two Conferences of Catholic Bishops, as well as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity acting in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In light of the Catholic responses, slight alterations were made and a briefer, subsequent report was prepared for submission to CRCNA Synod in 2004.

Following careful discussion, it was agreed that a footnote would be added to new translations of the Heidelberg Catechism recognizing that “Q. and A. 80 can no longer be held in its current form as part of our confession.” According to the Acts of Synod 2010, “Synod 2006 directed that Q. and A. 80 remain in the CRC’s text of the Heidelberg Catechism but that the last three paragraphs be placed in brackets to indicate that they do not accurately reflect the teaching and practice of today’s Roman Catholic Church and are no longer confessionally binding on members of the CRC.

The Reformed Church in America retains the original full text, choosing to recognize that the Catechism was written within a historical context that may not accurately describe the Roman Catholic Church’s current stance.”

Compiled by Sr. Donna Geernaert, sc