This past week, news sources reported that a Roman Catholic priest, Andres Arango (photo above) of the diocese of Phoenix, had “invalidly” baptized people for decades. Huh? First a little background.
The Roman Catholic church teaches “baptismal regeneration” i.e., the belief that baptism washes away original sin and incorporates the baptised individual into the church and allows them to receive additional sacraments to help them merit their salvation. For 1500 years, the RCC taught baptism is essential for salvation. However, modernism crept into RC theology during the 20th century and at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) the church dichotomously granted that all unbaptized religionists – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. – could also merit Heaven. How does that work? It was claimed the unbaptized would be covered under the tenet of baptismus flaminis (Latin: “baptism of desire”), i.e., the righteous unbaptised would desire baptism if they only knew how important it was.
Got all that? I know, I know. It’s impossibly incongruent, but let’s continue on to the crux of this post.
In order for baptism to be efficacious, the precise baptismal incantation – “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” – must be used by the priest. If the incantation is altered in any way, the baptism is invalid. The candidate still retains original sin, cannot receive the additional six sacraments, and is doomed to hell (unless they plead the baptismus flaminis clause at the gates of Heaven – I’m being facetious).
The Catholic and secular press recently reported (link below) that it was discovered that priest Arango has been using the incorrect baptismal incantation since he was ordained in 1995. Instead of saying, “I baptize you…,” Arango used the incorrect formula, “We baptize you…” It’s unknown exactly how many Catholics were affected, but the number is not insignificant. Arango held many positions in Brazil and in the United States and church authorities are attempting to contact as many of the individuals baptized by Arango as possible. They will all have to be re-baptized, and repeat the sacraments of confirmation and marriage (if applicable). They also won’t be able to receive the Jesus wafer or confess their sins to a priest until they are re-baptized.
Arango has resigned his position as a Phoenix parish priest and is currently assisting church authorities in the search for those affected.
Does the above strike you as absolute inanity? Religious legalism leads to all kinds ridiculous rabbit holes such as the case above. Baptism is an important ordinance as a public witness of our faith, but it is not salvific.
Roman Catholics need to hear the genuine Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. They’re hearing a false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit in their churches. Shame on Rome-friendly evangelical pastors and para-church leaders who claim the Roman Catholic church teaches the genuine Gospel.
How one priest’s mistake led to over 20 years of invalid baptisms
A couple of years ago, I reported on a similar dizzying rabbit hole, that of priest who had been “invalidly baptized” himself as an infant, making all of the sacraments he administered “invalid.” See here and here.