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Did a one-word mistake invalidate thousands of infant baptisms performed by a Catholic priest?


A Roman Catholic priest in Phoenix has resigned from his parish after the church ruled thousands of infant baptisms he performed prior to June 17, 2021, were invalid.

Fox News reports that Father Andres Arango, who served as a priest at St. Gregory Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona, used one wrong word when he was baptizing babies.

As he poured water over the infant’s head, Father Arango was in the habit of stating “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” instead of “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

According to the Catholic Church, the single word ‘we’ invalidated the baptism because it suggested the community was baptizing the child instead of Christ.

The Roman Catholic Church considers water baptism a sacrament and is necessary for salvation.

Infant baptism was implemented around the fourth century, because of the high mortality rate among infants and concerns of parents about their children’s salvation.

Though the Catholic Church has tried to validate infant baptism by comparing it to Jewish circumcision, there is not a single mention of a child being water baptized in the Bible. The Apostle Paul also noted that just because a person was circumcised and part of Israel, was no guarantee the person was a true believer in God’s eyes (Romans 9:6-7).

Secondly, water baptism was always preceded by a declaration of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus, which an infant is unable to understand or express (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4).

The Bible also states that faith, not water baptism, is necessary for salvation as Paul told the Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”(Acts 16:31 NASV).

So, what happens to an infant who dies?

In his article, The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?, Robert Mohler explains that infants will go to heaven.

He used the example of what happened to Israel after they refused to enter the Promised Land under Moses because of their unbelief. God condemned them to wander the desert for another forty years until that unbelieving generation had died off.

But this judgment only applied to the adults and not the children for a very specific reason:

Moreover, your little ones who you said would become prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good and evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.” (Deuteronomy 1:39 NASV)

The children were exempt because they did not have a full understanding of good and evil, and would inherit the Promised Land, as a result.

Jesus presented the same idea when the disciples were rebuking parents who were bringing their children to be blessed:

14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Mark 10:14 NASV)

READ: Catholic priest incorrectly performed thousands of baptisms by changing word, making them invalid AND The Salvation of the ‘Little Ones’: Do Infants who Die Go to Heaven?

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