Arizona priests presume that baptisms are invalid because of error

PHOENIX, AZ (AP) -- Although the priest was loved by his parishioners, he made one-word ritual mistakes that caused anxiety for thousands of Catholics living in Phoenix.

Arizona priests presume that baptisms are invalid because of error

Arizona priests presume that baptisms are invalid because of error

PHOENIX, AZ (AP) -- Although the priest was loved by his parishioners, he made one-word ritual mistakes that caused anxiety for thousands of Catholics living in Phoenix.

The Rev. is responsible for executing baptisms. Andres Arango was a 16-year veteran of Arizona. Officials from the Catholic Church estimate that thousands of baptisms have been invalidated because Andres Arango used an incorrect form. They suggest that those affected need to be re-baptized. Some people may feel obligated to have another church ceremony performed, even marriage.

Arango made a mistake in saying "We baptize" you in the name(s) of the Father, of the Son and of Holy Spirit. He should have started the sentence with "I baptize" instead. The Vatican ruled in 2020 that it is not the "we", but the "I" Christ working through the priest.

From September 2005 to his resignation February 1, Arango was in three metro Phoenix parishes. Most recently, he was at St. Gregory where parishioners credit him with reverseing a worrying drop in membership.

Mona Shelley, a long-standing parishioner, said that without Arango's heartfelt kindness and care, concern, and shepherding, both physically and spiritually our school and church would not exist. She stated that Arango had been back to the church many times since his resignation in order to perform rebaptisms with proper wording. People waited outside with banners to show their support and to thank Arango.

She said, "I don’t see him doing that with malice in any way." "Father Andres, while he may have made mistakes, is an extraordinary priest who cares deeply about his parishioners.

Eliana Najera, a parishioner who was directly affected by the botched baptism, expressed gratitude to Arango and said that he should return. Alysson Najera, Najera's 13 year-old daughter, was baptized in another church by Arango. She will be rebaptized at St. Gregory next Wednesday.

Najera stated, "As a mother, I feel bad because all these years she received Communion," referring to another sacrament which requires that the recipient be baptized first. "I have more questions that answers."

The Diocese of Phoenix wants to find people who were baptized with Arango. It created an FAQ section on their website that addresses issues related to botched baptisms. A form was also created for people to complete to begin the process of being re-baptized.

In June 2020, the Vatican issued guidance declaring that the "We” formula was invalid and that any person who was baptized with it must be rebaptized with the correct formula. Holy See stated that it was taking action due to the use of the "We" formula by unnamed priests in order to make baptism more communal, involving godparents, parents, and the community welcoming a new member to the church.

Arango posted a note to the Phoenix diocesan website: "It saddens my to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my priesthood by using an incorrect formula." My error is deeply regretted and has had a devastating effect on many people in your parish as well as elsewhere.

Similar cases have occurred elsewhere in the past. In Detroit, 2020 church officials claimed that a deacon used incorrect words while baptizing people between 1986 and 1999.

The Rev. was the most significant consequence of that case. Matthew Hood was baptized by the deacon as a boy and then became a priest. His 2017 ordination was cancelled because his baptism was invalid. Hood saw a video of his childhood baptism and realized the error, according to the local archdiocese.

According to the archdiocese, Hood marriages may not be valid. They advised couples to contact their pastor immediately to discuss any steps that could be taken to rectify your marital status in church.

Hood was baptized and ordained as priest again.

In Oklahoma, there will be a new priest in 2020: the Rev. Zachary Boazman learned that his baptism was invalid. Paul Coakley, Oklahoma City Archbishop, validated Boazman's marriages. Boazman was then baptized again and ordained.

Katie Burke, spokesperson for the Diocese in Phoenix, stated that rank-and-file Catholics brought Arango's baptisms up to the attention church.

Burke stated that "likely, those who heard it in Phoenix knew about these other stories and so they knew the incorrect phrasing."

Burke stated that the diocese did not know of any seminarians or deacons who were incorrectly baptized in Arango.

Parishioners petitioned the Phoenix Diocese to request a meeting at the church for their opinions on the priest's removal and to demand answers about the diocese’s decision to invalidate thousands more sacraments. A spreadsheet with hundreds upon examples of Arango's positive impact on their lives was also included in the petition.

Arango served as pastor at Saint Jerome Catholic Church, Phoenix, and St. Anne Roman Catholic Parish, Gilbert before he joined St. Gregory. He also served in San Diego, Brazil.

Andrea Reyes, a long-standing St. Gregory parishioner and friend, made contact with Arango on a 2017 church trip to Israel. They have kept in touch ever since.

She said, "He basically stated that this was a very unusual situation, and that he knows that he made mistakes." "I was like, ‘We miss you so much.’ And he was like: 'Yeah. I miss you guys too.' It felt like he was grieving the same way we were as a community.

Johnny Martinez Jr., another parishioner, stated that he started a chat with 20 family members to discuss whether any of them were affected by the botched baptisms. Martinez discovered old photos that confirmed his children weren't baptized in Arango. However, he said he had interacted with the priest many times.

Arango was praised for his kindness and diligence. However, he said that resigning was the right decision.

"We all have a job and we need to do it correctly." Martinez stated that it was not done correctly. "We can just pick up the pieces and go from there."

Maria Vazquez (whose 6-year-old grandson, Arango, was baptized), has written a letter to the diocesan to request the priest's reinstatement.

Vazquez said, "I'm asking them reach into their hearts to forgive." "There have been priests that have done worse, and they were allowed to stay in their churches."

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