A Catholic priest, Father Andres Arango, resigned Feb. 1 from his post at an Arizona church after the Diocese of Phoenix found he had repeatedly incorrectly performed the sacrament of baptism.
During a baptism in 2021, parishioners of St. Gregory Catholic Church heard Arango say “we baptize you” instead of the proper form, “I baptize you,” The New York Times reported. The diocese’s investigation into Arango found he said the ritual incorrectly for over 20 years, possibly invalidating baptisms he performed at parishes in the U.S. and Brazil, according to the outlet.
“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 in a statement. “I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere.”
Arango also said in the statement he would “dedicate [his] energy and full-time ministry to help remedy this and heal those affected.” (RELATED: Retired Pope Benedict Maintains Innocence As He Laments ‘Great Sorrow’ For Sex Abuse Cases)
Bishop Thomas Olmsted addressed Arango’s situation in a Jan. 14 letter, informing parishioners that after consulting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, all of Arango’s baptisms were invalid up to June 17, 2021, and would need to be repeated.
A Catholic priest has apologized, asked forgiveness, and resigned as pastor after a determination that he had failed to baptize validly over his two decades of priestly service in Brazil, the Diocese of San Diego, and the Diocese of Phoenix. https://t.co/cDtf73nDuo
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) February 8, 2022
Olmsted explained the significance of the language used in the sacrament, writing, “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.” The bishop said he did not believe Arango had “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,” Olmsted also wrote.
The Diocese of Phoenix has offered to repeat each invalid baptism, asking parishioners who might be affected to visit the diocese’s website and schedule a time for the parish to perform the sacrament, according to the diocese’s statement.
“I pledge to work diligently and swiftly to bring peace to those who have been affected,” Olmsted said. “I assure you that I and our diocesan staff are wholeheartedly committed to assisting those who have questions about their receptions of the sacraments.”