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Priest resigns after the Catholic Church found out he performed ‘invalid’ baptisms for years due to usage of a wrong word

By Bim Santos Published Feb 08, 2022 1:52 pm

A Catholic priest from the United States has resigned after it was found out that the baptisms he performed were invalid because of a wrong word he used while officiating the ceremony.

In a letter to the diocese dated Jan. 14 and was publicized recently, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said that diocesan officials through consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found out that baptisms performed by Reverend Andres Arango, a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, “are invalid.”

“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.’  The key phrase in question is the use of “We baptize” in place of ‘I baptize,’ Olmsted wrote. 

“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.”

Olmsted cited a doctrinal note stating that baptisms are not valid if the formula used is “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 

“I do not believe Fr. Andres had any intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments. On behalf of our local Church, I too am sincerely sorry that this error has resulted in disruption to the sacramental lives of a number of the faithful,” said Olmsted.

Arango also issued a letter in response to the news, announcing his resignation and expressing his apology.

“It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula. I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere,” said Arango, who tendered his resignation effective Feb. 1. 

The church did not disclose how many people were affected, but Arango, who started his ministry in the 1990s in Brazil, became a priest at St. Gregory Church in April 2017.

“With the help of the Holy Spirit and in communion with the Diocese of Phoenix I will dedicate my energy and full time ministry to help remedy this and heal those affected,” Arango added.

The Phoenix diocese put up a detailed question-and-answer page along with a contact form for people who believe they or their children were baptized by Arango.

“If you were baptized using the wrong words, that means your baptism is invalid, and you are not baptized. You will need to be baptized,” the diocese said.