PHOENIX, Az. (WTVO) — A Catholic priest in Phoenix, who has performed thousands of baptisms over 20 years, has resigned after it was revealed he had been performing baptisms incorrectly, invalidating them, marriages and holy orders.
According to Australia’s ABC News, Father Andres Arango used the word “we” instead of “I” during his ceremonies for the last two decades, using this phrasing during the sacrament: “We baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
According to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, he should have started with the words “I baptize you…”
The Diocese of Phoenix said the Andres had performed “invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula”.
“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,” Bishop of Phoenix Thomas Olmstead said in a statement.
“I do not believe Fr Andres had any intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments. 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.”
Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, in Rome, added “The Second Vatican Council has likewise established that no-one, ‘even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”
“Modifying on one’s own initiative the form of the celebration of a sacrament does not constitute simply a liturgical abuse, like the transgression of a positive norm, but a vulnus [wound] inflicted upon the ecclesial communion and the identifiability of Christ’s action, and in the most grave cases, rendering invalid the sacrament itself, because the nature of the ministerial action requires the transmission with fidelity of that which has been received.”
The Diocese of Phoenix said it was working to reach those affected and reminded parishioners that only those who had received a valid baptism could receive communion.
Andred has resigned as a pastor but remains “a priest in good standing” because of the mistakes, according the the Diocese of Phoenix.
“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,” he said.