A two-letter word is the reason why an Arizona-based priest recently resigned. Rev. Andres Arango, a priest with the Diocese of Phoenix, has performed hundreds of baptisms using incorrect wording, according to the Diocese. He used the words “I” and “we” interchangeably throughout his religious career until June 17, 2021. But the rules on using the Baptismal Formula are strict. So, this means anyone who Rev. Andres baptized before that date will likely have to undergo the sacred ceremony again.
“It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula,” Rev. Andres expressed in a public letter. “I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere.”
Rev. Andres had become accustomed to using the phrase, “we baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” during baptisms in English and Spanish. However, it turns out, in the Rite, the word “we” is actually the word “I.”
The Diocese of Phoenix explained why the differentiation is important in their response to the situation.
“It is not the community that baptizes a person and incorporates them into the Church of Christ; rather, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides at all sacraments; therefore, it is Christ who baptizes,” the Diocese wrote on their site. “The Baptismal Formula (the words used in the Rite) has always been guarded for this reason: so it is clear that we receive our baptism through Jesus and not the community.”
Per NPR, a Diocese spokesperson said they believe Rev. Andres has used “the incorrect word since the beginning of his priesthood in 1995.” Additionally, the spokesperson said they believe thousands of people are affected by the wrong word use. In an effort to correct his error, Rev. Andres resigned as pastor of St. Gregory Parish in Phoenix, effective February 1, 2022.
“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,” Rev. Andres said.
And healing they might need. Apparently, an invalid baptism could complicate other ceremonies. The Diocese stated on their site that baptism is “the door which gives access to the other sacraments.” So, a botched baptism could have a ripple effect on other sacraments, even if the correct words are used.
“As the entry point to other sacraments, an invalid baptism therefore invalidates any subsequent sacraments, especially confirmation, marriage, and holy orders (ordination to the priesthood or diaconate),” the Diocese said.”
For now, the religious body is tackling this issue by working with Rev. Andres and his previous parishes to notify individuals baptized within the invalid time frame. They’ve also set up a webpage with a contact email, frequently asked questions, and an online form people incorrectly baptized by Father Andres can fill out.
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