No entry in heaven?: Thousands in US need to be re-baptised as priest used the wrong words for baptism

WION Web Team
Los Angeles, United States Updated: Feb 16, 2022, 09:37 AM(IST)

The Catholic church views baptism as a rite of initiation that is necessary for believers to receive other blessings. Like other Christian denominations, it involves sprinkling or pouring water on the head, or immersing the supplicant. Catholics believe that only those who have been baptized will be able to enter heaven after death. Photograph:( Others )

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"I do not have an exact number of people baptised between 1995 and 2021, but I believe they number in the thousands," said diocese spokeswoman Katie Burke

Thousands of Catholics in America might have to be rebaptised after the church discovered that a priest had used the wrong word in the baptismal blessing for more than two decades. This invalidates all the baptisms he performed.

In place of the Vatican-approved "I baptize you," Father Andres Arango performed the first sacrament of Catholic life with the words, "We baptise you."

"It is not the community that baptizes a person and incorporates them into the Church of Christ; rather, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides at all sacraments; therefore, it is Christ who baptises," Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of Phoenix, said.

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On Tuesday, diocese spokeswoman Katie Burke told AFP that Arango's error was identified in mid-2021, almost 25 years after he began working as a priest.

"Father Arango was using the incorrect words from the beginning of his priesthood until it was brought to the attention of the diocese last summer," she said.

"I do not have an exact number of people baptised between 1995 and 2021, but I believe they number in the thousands."

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Burke said Arango quit his job after the mistake came to light so he could dedicate his full-time ministry to helping and healing the persons affected by the mistake.

"The diocese is working closely with Father Arango and the parishes at which he was previously assigned to notify and make arrangements to baptise anyone who may have been baptised invalidly."

A website has been created to answer questions from concerned parishioners, such as, "Does this affect my marriage?" and "Do I need to go to confession?"

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The Catholic church views baptism as a rite of initiation that is necessary for believers to receive other blessings. Like other Christian denominations, it involves sprinkling or pouring water on the head, or immersing the supplicant.

Catholics believe that only those who have been baptised will be able to enter heaven after death.

Arango's mistake isn't the first; a priest in Michigan had to be re-baptised in 2020 after watching a family video, during which an officiant used "we" instead of "I."

(With inputs from agencies)

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