For 26 years, Father Andres Arango, a Catholic priest in the United States, had performed the first sacrament of Catholic life with the wrong words, the church found.
“We baptize you,” instead of the Vatican-sanctioned “I baptize you.” Father Andres Arango had gotten a word wrong in the blessing for decades and it could prompt the church to invalidate people baptized by this priest.
“Father Arango was using incorrect words from the start of his priesthood until it came to the attention of the diocese last summer,” said Katie Burke, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Phoenix.
Burke said Arango’s mistake was identified in mid-2021, a quarter century after he began working as a priest. “I don’t have the exact number of people baptized between 1995 and 2021, but I believe there are thousands,” she said.
“It is not the community that baptizes a person and integrates him into the Church of Christ; it is rather Christ, and Christ alone, who presides over all the sacraments; therefore, it is Christ who baptizes,” said Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix.
Baptism in the Catholic Church is a rite of admission which, according to church doctrine, is necessary for a believer to gain access to other blessings.
In common with other Christian denominations, this normally involves sprinkling or pouring water on the head, or the supplicant being immersed.
Catholics believe that only baptized people can enter heaven after death.