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Vatican Says Thousands Of Weddings & Baptisms Are Invalid Because Priest Used Wrong Word During Ceremonies

Photo: Ruslan Lytvyn / Shutterstock
Priest baptizing child

The Catholic Church is one of the oldest institutions ever created, with popes dating almost all the way back to the lifetime of Jesus Christ. As you can probably imagine, an organization that old has a lot of traditions.

And the Catholic Church cares quite a lot about it’s traditions.

A priest has stepped down and thousands of baptisms have been declared invalid because of one word.

Arizona's Father Andres Arango has stepped down from his position within the Catholic Church after it was discovered that, when performing baptisms, Arango used slightly incorrect wording for the ritual.

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For the past twenty years, when performing baptisms, Father Arango would speak the sentence, “We baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

To the uninitiated, nothing would seem out of place here, but to the Vatican, this was irreconcilable with the correct line.

In the correct version of the ceremony, the priest would use the word ‘I’ instead of ‘We’ as Father Arango had for 20 years.

This means that the correct version of the like would be “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

All of Father Arango’s baptisms have been declared invalid.

This would leave many asking, ‘so what?’ Well according to the Vatican, all of the baptisms that Father Arango performed incorrectly basically don’t count.

What’s worse is that all subsequent ceremonies that rely on the participant having already been baptized have also been declared invalid.

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That includes confirmations — the Catholic coming of age ceremony in which a baptized person officially becomes a full member of the church — and even marriages.

The Vatican claims that a community cannot baptize a person.

As for the Vatican, their official position on the matter is that no person, priest or otherwise, can simply choose to make changes to the wording of baptism, be they a priest or anyone else.

The issue for the Vatican is quite literally one of semantics, “The issue with using "we" is that it is not the community that baptises a person, rather, it is Christ, and Him alone, who presides at all of the sacraments, and so it is Christ Jesus who baptises,” said one bishop.

Father Arango has expressed his sadness at so much of his previous work in the church being wiped away, saying, “I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience my actions have caused and genuinely ask for your prayers, forgiveness, and understanding.”

It remains to be seen what will come next for the people who have been affected by the nullification of thousands of baptisms, Father Arango has resolved to try to help right his mistakes and the Vatican doesn’t seem like it’s going to excommunicate anyone over the issue.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.