A priest from the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix reportedly is given a new assignment: to make valid all the baptisms he invalidated in almost two decades.
Religion News reported that the Diocese of Phoenix estimated there are thousands of baptisms that were presumed invalid because of the incorrect phrasing Rev. Andres Arango used when he performed the rite. Religion News said the baptisms were done from September 2005 until February 1, when Arango resigned. During the said time, Arango served three parishes.
Arango, a priest in good standing, began the baptisms for those he invalidated on Thursday evening in the St. Gregory Parish where he previously served as pastor for five years. Arango's new assignment is to heal and help those he invalidly baptized. There were 11 children and one adult whose baptism Arango performed on Thursday to correct the past baptism done, now following the church-prescribed language for the rite.
Among the children is 13-year-old Alysson Najera who Arango baptized in 2009. The children also had to receive the Sacraments of Communion and Confirmation again, since the ones they received before were also considered invalid due to the invalid baptism they received. The marriages of those whom Arango baptized are also said to be invalid and would have to receive Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation before getting the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The Diocese of Phoenix sadly announced last January 15 that the baptisms performed by Arango were invalid. The diocese assured the faithful that such things happen and extended assistance to those affected.
"After careful study, it has been determined that the form (words) Fr. Andres used for the sacrament of baptism has been incorrect, and all of the baptisms he has performed until June 17, 2021, are presumed invalid. Any baptisms performed by Fr. Andres after June 17, 2021, are presumed valid and do not need to be repeated," the Diocese of Phoenix said.
The announcement came a day after the Bishop, Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted, released a letter stating that the matter is a "sincere pastoral concern" that underwent careful study with various diocesan officials and consultation with Rome's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Olmsted clarified that Arango did not intentionally invalidated the baptisms "to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments."
In line with the announcement, the diocese created a Frequently Asked Questions section in their website to help the faithful better understand what makes a baptism invalid and how it affects them. The diocese, however, was uncertain how many were the invalid baptisms Arango performed. They then provided an area in the website where those baptized by Arango can submit their information, a copy of the baptismal certificate, and valid IDs.
The Frequently Asked Questions explained that Arango was accustomed to using the words, "We baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," whenever he performs the Rite of Baptism for children and adults in English and Spanish. What he should be using is "I" and not "We" at the beginning of the formula. This is wrong since it is not the community that performs the baptism but Christ, who is personified by the priest. The Sacraments, the FAQ continued, is performed solely by Christ, such that Christ is the one who performs the baptism.
Following the announcement, Arango admitted his mistake also on the 15th through a message addressed to St. Gregory Parish that expressed his sadness upon learning he performed invalid baptisms throughout his ministry as a priest. Arango expressed regret for his error, as well as, on how his mistake will affect numerous people within the Diocese. The priest then assured the faithful that he will amend his ways by remedying his actions.
"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. In order to do this, I have resigned from my position as pastor of St. Gregory parish in Phoenix effective February 1, 2022," Arango said.
"I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience my actions have caused and genuinely ask for your prayers, forgiveness, and understanding," he added.