A Catholic priest in Phoenix has resigned from his post after a church investigation found he performed baptisms incorrectly during his 20-year career, rendering the rite invalid for thousands of people, according to Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix.
As he poured the holy water during the baptisms he performed, Reverend Andres Arango would say, “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
But Father Arango mis-formulated a word: “We baptize” should have been “I baptize.” And getting the word wrong canceled all the rituals he performed using that language.
“If you were baptized using the wrong words, it means your baptism is invalid and you are not baptized,” Olmsted wrote in a message to parishioners. “You will need to be baptized.”
“The problem with using ‘We’ is that it is not the community that baptizes a person, rather it is Christ, and He alone, who presides over all the sacraments, and therefore it is Christ Jesus who baptizes.”
The Diocese of Phoenix added that it does not believe Fr. Arango “intended to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments.”
“I, too, am sincerely sorry that this error has caused a disruption of the sacramental life of a number of the faithful. For this reason, I pledge to take all necessary measures to remedy the situation for all those affected. “, Olmsted said.
He said that after a “thorough study by the diocesan authorities”, all baptisms performed by Arango up to June 17, 2021 are presumed invalid. Baptisms performed by Arango after this date are presumed valid and need not be repeated.
Arango previously served in parishes in Phoenix, Brazil and San Diego, according to the Catholic News Service. The diocese has created a website for anyone who thinks their baptism was invalid.
In a statement, Fr. Arango asked his parishioners for forgiveness and announced that he had resigned as pastor of St. Gregory Parish in Phoenix, effective Feb. 1.
“It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula,” he said. “I deeply regret my mistake and how it affected many people in your parish and elsewhere…I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience my actions have caused and sincerely ask for your prayers, forgiveness and understanding,” Arango said. .
Dozens of people attended a farewell celebration for Father Arango in January, and some St. Gregory parishioners started a petition asking that Arango stay on as pastor.
“As part of his pastoral leadership, Father Andres has reinvigorated the church community by renovating its facilities, providing parishioners and seekers of faith with a spiritual home open to all,” he said. “The St. Gregory community will never be the same without him.”
According to the Diocese of Phoenix, Arango remains “in good standing” as a priest and “has not disqualified himself from his vocation and ministry.” At this time, the other sacraments performed by Arango are considered valid, the diocese said.
“With the help of the Holy Spirit and in communion with the Diocese of Phoenix, I will devote my energy and full-time ministry to help remedy this and heal those affected,” Arango said.