Priest Resigns Over Thousands of Invalid Baptisms - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Priest Resigns Over Thousands of Invalid Baptisms

Fr. Andres Arango recently resigned as pastor of St. Gregory Catholic Church in the diocese of Phoenix, Arizona. It turns out that he has been performing invalid baptisms for over 20 years. Members of the laity noticed that he said “we baptize you” instead of “I baptize you” at a baptism last year. This led to a diocesan investigation. It is not clear why Arango used that incorrect formula, but Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted does not “believe Fr. Andres had any intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments.”

Still, Olmsted acknowledges the damage the discovery has caused — affected Catholics will have to go back and receive sacraments again, since they presuppose baptism — and noted in a letter to the faithful that Arango comes from a religious order, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. Arango has not only served as a priest in Phoenix but also earlier in San Diego and Brazil. He was performing invalid baptisms during all that time.

The Church teaches that the validity of the sacraments depends on precise adherence to the “matter” and “form” that Jesus Christ gave them. A baptism making use of soda instead of water, for example, is not valid. Similarly, a communal spin on the words of baptism invalidates it, as Olmsted explained: “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.”

“It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula,” Arango has written to his former parishioners. “I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere.”

What is he going to do now? He says that he will devote “full-time ministry to help remedy this and heal those affected.” One wonders if they will want that help. Even if one stipulates that this is all the product of an innocent mistake, the story is still a poor advertisement for the quality of seminary training within many orders and dioceses during the post-Vatican II era. It also speaks to this era’s lax clerical atmosphere, where many priests feel free to add or drop words during religious ceremonies. This is a temptation to which the most self-consciously “communal” priests are drawn.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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