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USA: Catholic priest resigns after carrying out thousands of ‘invalid’ baptisms for over two decades

Father Andres Arango had to resign from the priesthood after the baptisms he had carried out were deemed invalid due to the wording used during the religious ceremony.

A Catholic priest in Arizona has resigned from his parish after the church investigation revealed that he had performed thousands of incorrect baptisms throughout most of his 20-year career.

According to the reports, Father Andres Arango had to resign from the priesthood after the baptisms he had carried out were deemed invalid due to the incorrect wording used during the religious ceremony.

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix announced on its website that it determined after careful study that Father Andres Arango had used the wrong wording in baptisms performed up until June 17, 2021.

Father Andres Arango, who performed thousands of baptisms in the last two decades, would say, “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” during the ceremony. Instead, the priest, who performed baptisms in English and Spanish, should have said, “I baptize,” the diocese explained.

“It is not the community that baptizes a person and incorporates them into the Church of Christ; rather, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides at all sacraments; therefore, it is Christ who baptizes,” the diocese said.

In its release, the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix said that if someone is baptized using the wrong words, that means that the baptism is invalid, and the person is not baptized.

Diocese spokesperson Katie Burke said that Arango is believed to have used the incorrect word since the beginning of his priesthood in 1995.

“I do not have an exact number of people affected, but I believe they number in the thousands,” the spokesperson added.

In a statement, Bishop Thomas J Olmsted, the head of the diocese, said that the error was first reported to him. It was later confirmed after an investigation by diocesan officials in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. He noted that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith established in 2020 that baptisms conferred with the phrase “We baptize you” are invalid.

The church officials said they are working closely with Arango and his former parishes to find if anyone may have been baptized invalidly. The diocese said that while the situation may be legally sound, the words, materials and actions are crucial aspects of every sacrament, and altering them makes the baptism invalid.

“For example, if a priest uses milk instead of wine during the Consecration of the Eucharist, the sacrament is not valid,” the NPR quoted the diocese, adding, “The milk would not become the Blood of Jesus Christ.”

Meanwhile, Arango has apologized for his mistake in a statement, saying, “It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest regularly using an incorrect formula.”

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OpIndia Staff
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