Thousands of adults and children baptized by a Phoenix Catholic priest will have to undergo the religious rite a second time after the church declared them invalid. The reason: The priest used the phrase “we baptize you” instead of “I baptize you” during the sacramental ceremony.
The baptisms were performed by the Rev. Andres Arango of St. Gregory parish, Bishop Thomas Olmsted wrote in a Jan. 14 letter to the Diocese of Phoenix. The baptisms took place over about two decades of service in Brazil, the Diocese of San Diego and the Diocese of Phoenix, Catholic News Agency reported.
“It is with sincere pastoral concern that I inform the faithful that baptisms performed by Reverend Andres Arango, a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, are invalid,” he wrote.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the minister was not authorized to change the wording of the sacramental formula “to his own liking.” He also wasn’t allowed to declare that he was acting on behalf of parents, family, friends or the gathered assembly.
Instead, a minister must act “insofar as he is the sign-presence of the same Christ that is enacted in the ritual gesture of the Church,” the Congregation said.
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As such, thousands of baptisms were invalid, Katie Burke, a spokesperson for the Phoenix diocese, told Newsweek.
The exact number of invalid baptisms isn’t known.
Olmsted apologized to congregation members and said he did not believe Andres had any harmful intentions.
“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,” he wrote in the letter. “This is why I pledge to take every step necessary to remedy the situation for everyone impacted.”
The church is working to schedule baptisms for affected families.
Arango resigned Feb. 1, though he was not disqualified from his vocation and ministry. He remains a priest in good standing