Thousands of baptisms deemed invalid after Catholic priest’s crucial mistake

An Arizona Catholic priest has resigned after it was found he made a tiny but devastating error in his baptisms, leaving thousands technically unbaptised.

For 25 years, Father Andres Arango had performed baptisms stating: “We baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

But the Diocese of Phoenix noted that Father Arango should have instead said “I baptise”.

Thousands of baptisms performed by Father Arango before June 17, 2021, are now “presumed invalid” – meaning all of those people will have to baptised again.

They include baptisms at St Gregory Catholic Church in Phoenix, where Father Arango was the residing priest for five years, as well as those at his previous parishes in Brazil and San Diego.

Fortunately for those baptised by Father Arango after June 17, 2021, their baptisms are presumed valid.

Father Arango left his post at the St Gregory Catholic Church in Phoenix on February 1.

The invalid baptisms may, in turn, invalidate ensuing confirmations and Eucharists, meaning those would also need to be repeated.

The bungle might also affect marriages, though the diocese said “there is no single clear answer”.

The Vatican released a doctoral note two years ago, explaining the history behind the altered terminology and why it invalidated baptisms.

The note said that priests had wrongly chosen to deliberately modify the words to emphasise the importance of community, and to reflect the participation of families and others present at ceremonies.

However, as the priest is acting on behalf of Jesus, he did not “have the authority to modify the sacramental formula to his own liking”, the note said.

Father Arango has apologised for his error in a statement published on The Diocese of Phoenix’s website.

“I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere,” he wrote.

“I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience my actions have caused and genuinely ask for your prayers, forgiveness, and understanding.”

Father Arango has also said he will dedicate his time to helping those affected by the invalid baptisms. He has since left his post at St Gregory’s.

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