A priest in Arizona performed thousands of baptisms incorrectly by erroneously changing one word.
The error rendered thousands of baptisms performed by the Rev. Andres Arango invalid.
No priest “may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority,” the diocese said.
A Catholic priest in Phoenix has resigned after realizing he’d been incorrectly performing baptisms for over 20 years, rendering the rite invalid for thousands of people.
As he administered the ritual, the Rev. Andres Arango would say, “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” But the correct wording is “I baptize,” according to the Vatican’s instruction, Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, wrote in a January 14 message.
No one, including priests, “may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority,” Olmsted wrote, citing Vatican teachings. Olmsted added that he didn’t believe Arango had “intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments.”
Still, the official Diocese of Phoenix website said that Arango’s one-word alteration means that “all of the baptisms he has performed until June 17, 2021, are presumed invalid.” The diocese also called for those who believe Arango had incorrectly baptized them to submit their contact details to receive the proper rite.
In an open letter, Arango apologized for his error and announced that he’d resigned as pastor of the St. Gregory parish in Phoenix 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,” he wrote.
“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,” he added.
According to the Catholic News Service, Arango previously served in parishes in Brazil and San Diego. The diocese told USA Today that he had administered thousands of baptisms throughout his ministry.
Catholic baptisms involve water being poured on a person’s head to signify they have been purified and are now part of the church. Baptisms are typically performed on infants and are considered a requirement for Catholic salvation.
Despite the error, some St. Gregory Catholic Church members have launched a petition asking that Arango stay on as pastor of their parish.
“As part of his pastoral leadership, Father Andres reinvigorated the church community by renovating its facilities, giving parishioners and faith seekers a spiritual home that is open to all,” it said. “The St. Gregory’s community will never be the same without him.”
Arango’s blunder was not the first time a one-word alteration has affected baptisms in the US.
In 2020, the Rev. Matthew Hood in Detroit realized while watching a family video that the deacon who baptized him as a baby had also used the wrong phrase of “We baptize you.”
The discovery resulted in Hood being rebaptized, then reconfirmed, and subsequently reordered. The mistake also affected the validity of the sacraments that Hood had previously performed for his parishioners.
The Archbishop of Detroit, Allen H. Vigneron, apologized on behalf of the local church and attributed the discrepancy to “human error.”
Read the original article on Insider
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism