Message From Bishop Olmsted and Fr. Andres Arango
A Message from Bishop Olmsted
January 14, 2022
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:18
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Peace be with you!
I write to you today for the purpose of sharing some information that is as difficult to hear as it is challenging for me to announce. As the chief shepherd of the Diocese of Phoenix and as your spiritual father, I am charged with the responsibility of being vigilant over the celebration of the sacraments. It is my duty to ensure that the sacraments are conferred in a manner that is in keeping with the commands of Jesus Christ in the Gospel and the requirements of sacred tradition.
It is with sincere pastoral concern that I inform the faithful that baptisms performed by Reverend Andres Arango, a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, are invalid. This determination was made after careful study by diocesan officials and through consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.
Specifically, it was reported to me that Fr. Andres used the formula, “WE baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The key phrase in question is the use of “We baptize” in place of “I baptize.” 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.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently issued a doctrinal note alerting the Church throughout the world that baptisms were not valid in which the formula was changed to say “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In making this clarification, the Congregation referred to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which reminded us that no one “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”
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. This is why I pledge to take every step necessary to remedy the situation for everyone impacted. This commitment is, in part, why I write to you today, with the hope that you may assist me and diocesan officials in identifying those in need of the sacraments. If you believe your own reception of baptism may be connected to Fr. Andres Arango’s ministry, please call your parish for more information about how to proceed. I also encourage you to visit, dphx.org/valid-baptism for more information.
I ask that you join me in praying for Fr. Andres and for all of those who are going to be impacted by this unfortunate situation. I pledge to work diligently and swiftly to bring peace to those who have been affected, and I assure you that I and our diocesan staff are wholeheartedly committed to assisting those who have questions about their reception of the sacraments. I invite you to join me in prayer as we move forward together as a local church in reaching out to those who may need this particular pastoral assistance. May God continue to fill us with His grace, mercy and love.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
+Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix
Message from Fr. Andres Arango
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is with a heavy heart that I find myself writing this letter of notification to a wonderful parish family that I once served.
It saddens me to learn that I have performed invalid baptisms throughout my ministry as a priest by regularly using an incorrect formula. I deeply regret my error and how this has affected numerous people in your parish and elsewhere. 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. In order to do this, I have resigned from my position as pastor of St. Gregory parish in Phoenix effective February 1, 2022.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank God for having given me the opportunity to serve your community so many years ago. You have all enriched my life beyond measure. It has been a blessing and an honor to have served and worked alongside people that I consider my dear friends and family.
On the Diocese of Phoenix website, there is a letter from Bishop Olmsted about this and a link to a form where you can provide your name and contact information if you believe you were baptized by me, so that the Diocese can begin the process of baptizing all who are affected.
I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience my actions have caused and genuinely ask for your prayers, forgiveness, and understanding.
Respectfully in Christ,
Fr. Andres Arango