Invalid Baptisms spark shock waves throughout the Catholic community

NOW: Invalid Baptisms spark shock waves throughout the Catholic community

MILWAUKEE, (CBS 58) -- A Catholic priest in Arizona who was performing Baptisms the wrong way for years has resigned in Arizona. The invalid Baptisms have sent shock waves throughout the Catholic community.

Words mean everything in the Catholic community. In this case, a priest used the word "we" instead of "I" and that has invalidated thousands of Baptisms. It's also caused Catholic leaders everywhere to take a closer look.

It's the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on South Lake Drive. Any cases in question come before the desk of The Very Reverend Mark Payne as adjutant judicial vicar.

"Well word choice is very important okay," said The Very Rev. Mark Payne, Adjutant Judicial Vicar for Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

What we know of the Arizona case is that Father Andres Arango used the phrase, "We Baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit", when he should have said "I" because it's not the community that's doing the Baptism. It's Christ alone.

"So if we use "we" who's the "we? The reason it's so important is I am not baptizing in my name. I am baptizing as in the person of Jesus," said Rev. Payne.

Father Arango's Baptisms date back to 1995 in both English and Spanish, so thousands are affected.

"Father really didn't believe he was doing anything wrong. He was very sincere about that. So he felt that he doing everything correctly, but he wasn't," said Rev. Payne.

It's not the first time this has happened recently. The summer of 2020 revealed something similar in Detroit and Oklahoma City. So far, Father Payne hasn't seen any in Milwaukee.

"Not that I am personally aware of that, but we have through the chancery office, through the Chancellor Barbara Anne Cusack sent out a memo reminding the priests to use the correct words and if there are people aware to contact the chancery office or the tribunal, myself Father Mark Payne, and bring it to our attention," said Rev. Payne.

If a Baptism is found to be invalid, any subsequent sacraments including Confirmation, Holy Orders and Marriage may have to be repeated.

"I think poor Father got a little confused in his own thought or in his own theology and unfortunately he didn't do it correctly," said Rev. Payne.

Anyone seeing this report, who may now have questions about their own Baptism or of someone they know, can contact the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at 414-769-3300. 

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