One wrong word by Phoenix priest invalidates ‘numerous’ baptisms

FILE IMAGE - A priest's use of the word "we" during baptisms invalidated all the ones he had...
FILE IMAGE - A priest's use of the word "we" during baptisms invalidated all the ones he had performed over years, the Diocese of Phoenix stated.(U.S. Air Force/Pixabay)
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 3:00 PM EST
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PHOENIX (Arizona’s Family/Gray News) - Baptisms performed by a priest in Arizona are not valid because of a single word, the Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix said.

The priest involved is the Rev. Andres Arango, and the word in question is “we,” Arizona’s Family reported.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted announced the revelation in a letter dated Jan. 14 “with sincere pastoral concern.”

“Specifically, it was reported to me that Fr. Andres used the formula, ‘WE baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.,’” Olmsted wrote. “The key phrase in question is the use of ‘We baptize’ in place of ‘I baptize.’ The issue with using ‘We’ is that it is not the community that baptizes a person, rather, it is Christ, and Him alone, who presides at all of the sacraments, and so it is Christ Jesus who baptizes.”

It’s not clear how many baptisms are affected, but the diocese stated it presumes all that Arango performed before June 17, 2021, are invalid. Those performed after that date did not need to be repeated.

Arango has been a priest since 1995 and came to Phoenix in September 2005.

Olmsted asked people to contact the diocese if they believe Arango baptized them or their children.

Because baptism is the first sacrament, those whose baptisms are not valid might need to repeat other sacraments, as well. That includes the first communion and confirmation. In the Catholic religion, one cannot have received other sacraments without having been properly baptized first.

The Diocese of Phoenix website says it’s possible that some marriages might be affected, as well.

“I do not believe Fr. Andres had any intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments,” Olmsted said.

Arango resigned as pastor of St. Gregory Parish in Phoenix but remains a priest.

“It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula,” Arango wrote on the Diocese of Phoenix website. “I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere.”

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