A pastor leading baptism at St. Gregory Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona resigned for performing thousands of incorrect rituals.
Last year when some people in the pews heard a slight variation in the religious ritual a problem occurred.
“We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Rev. Andres Arango said, his voice echoing in the church as he poured the holy water.
Saying “we baptize” was incorrect. The Vatican instructs priests to say “I baptize,” and if it is not said that way the baptism is deemed invalid.
Church leaders investigated and determined last month that Father Arango had incorrectly performed thousands of baptisms over more than 20 years, meaning those he had baptized in Phoenix and at his previous parishes in Brazil and San Diego were not properly baptized.
The oversight has caused headaches for those now seeking answers about whether their faulty baptisms have spilled over into other elements of their Catholic faith. For instance, would it affect those who were married by the church?
“Maybe! Unfortunately, there is no single clear answer,” the Diocese of Phoenix answered.
“It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula,” Father Arango said. “I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere.”
Thomas J. Olmsted, the bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, said in a statement that he did not believe Father Arango “had any intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments.”
In the Catholic faith, a baptism is a sacrament in which people, often infants, have water poured over their foreheads, symbolizing purification and admission to the Church. It is a “requirement for salvation,” according to the diocese.
Adhering to the baptismal formula is “extremely important to continue the tradition of the Church,” said Neomi De Anda, a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton in Ohio.