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Pastor, who performed thousands of baptisms, used one wrong word for decades; now they are considered invalid and thus people need to be baptized again

According to reports, the priest has handed in his resignation after a church investigation found that he performed baptisms that were invalid for most of his over 20-year career. Officials said that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2020 verified that when baptism is granted with the formula “We baptize …” it becomes invalid and thus people need to be baptized again.

The Catholic priest from Arizona, Father Andres Arango, who performed thousands of baptisms, reportedly used: “We baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The words “I baptize” should have been used instead of “We baptize.” Posting a message to parishioners last month, Bishop Thomas Olmsted said, “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 baptized.” 

Arango’s blunder means that some people would need to repeat other sacraments as baptism is the first of the sacraments, per the frequently asked questions section in the diocese webpage. Olmsted pointed out that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2020 verified that when baptism is granted with the formula “We baptize …” it becomes invalid and thus people need to be baptized again, according to reports

Following the outcome of the investigation, Arango resigned as the pastor of the St. Gregory Parish in Arizona and no longer holds the position as of February 1. “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,” wrote Arango in his own message. 

A website has been set up for people who believe they had an invalid baptism, explaining that the baptisms conducted by Arango after June 17, 2021, are presumed valid.

A spokesperson for the diocese, Katie Burke, said that some new baptisms have taken place already. Arango, who began his career in Brazil in 1995, will continue being a priest and devoting his energy and time to those who had invalid baptisms.

Olmsted also explained that he believed Arango did not mean any harm to the parishioners. “I too am sincerely sorry that this error has resulted in disruption to the sacramental lives of a number of the faithful. This is why I pledge to take every step necessary to remedy the situation for everyone impacted,” he noted.