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Andres Arango: AZ priest resigns after ONE wrong word invalidates 20 years on baptisms

Thousands of baptisms over the past 20 years were deemed invalid by the Catholic Church after Father Arango's error was spotted, leading to the resignation
UPDATED FEB 15, 2022
Father Andres Arango (L) and a representative image of a baptism ceremony (R) (YouTube and Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Father Andres Arango (L) and a representative image of a baptism ceremony (R) (YouTube and Mario Tama/Getty Images)

On February 14, Father Andres Arango of the St. Gregory Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona, confirmed he had resigned following a major error for over 20 years. The Catholic Church confirmed that over 1,000 baptisms Arango performed are all invalid, because of one small error. In an apology letter, he said, "It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms... I deeply regret my error."

The shocking news is the latest blowback to the Church. In September 2021, Francesco Spagnesi in Italy was arrested for stealing Church funds to host gay parties. Ironically, just a few months before that, the US Supreme Court ruled that a Catholic charity could ban same-sex parents from adopting. More recently, President Joe Biden has been in a tussle with the Church for his stance on abortion, which led to a planned mass with the Pope at the Vatican being canceled.


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Father Arago's error has now caused a massive administrative error for the Church, as it tries to locate all those he incorrectly baptized over the past 20 years. The Diocese of Phoenix has now created a form on its website for those affected so that they can be correctly baptized.

Rev Arturo Corral (L) baptizes a child outdoors at the historic Our Lady Queen of Angels (La Placita) Church amid the Covid pandemic on September 26, 2020, in Los Angeles, California (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Who is Father Andres Arago?

Originally from Medellín, Colombia, Arango served as the pastor of the St. Gregory Catholic Church since 2015. He began his career in the late 1990s, where he first served in Brazil’s Diocese of São Salvador. From there, he moved to California as director of the San Diego State University Newman Center from 2001-2005. Between 2005 and 2013, he was the pastor at St. Jerome Parish in Phoenix. He then spent two years as a parochial vicar at St. Anne in Gilbert, before joining the St. Gregory Church. 

Arago resigned on February 1, weeks after Bishop Thomas Olmsted announced that all the baptisms he ever performed are invalid. The determination came after some Churchgoers heard a variation of the baptismal ritual in 2020. While performing a baptism, Arago reportedly said, "We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," rather than the Church-approved version, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Father Andres Arango speaking at CYC Revival - Pheonix 2017 (YouTube)

The error reportedly went undetected for decades but was finally caught. "I do not believe Fr. Andres had any intentions to harm the faithful or deprive them of the grace of baptism and the sacraments," Olmsted said, adding, "I too am sincerely sorry that this error has resulted in disruption to the sacramental lives of a number of the faithful." However, he still remains "in good standing" with the Church, and won't leave, for now at least.

In his letter, Arago said, "I will dedicate my energy and full-time ministry to help remedy this and heal those affected," but will no longer serve as pastor. "If you were baptized using the wrong words, that means your baptism is invalid, and you are not baptized. You will need to be baptized," the Pheonix Diocese said. It has also created a website with more details, and a form so that people can be correctly baptized.