The Problem of Father Arango

The Diocese of Phoenix reaches out here to Catholics deemed invalidly baptized because of that I/we thing that came out in the summer of 2020. The liturgical offender, Father Andres Arango, has resigned his pastorate at Saint Gregory Church.

If I wanted, I could insert a face palm thing here. But I want to keep my commentary valid.

It occurs to me that clergy all have ample opportunities in liturgy to be freewheeling. They can preach. If the homily contains poor theology, does that invalidate the Liturgy of the Word? They usually choose their own vestments. That can range from the simple polyester smock to garments with enough old lace to absorb any amount of arsenic. They write bulletins, give speeches, lead prayers at various meetings, and if they look carefully, the liturgical books give a boatload of options. That someone who has any mastery over the English language would baptize first-person plural is an indulgence that seems juvenile.

I remember back to my first year coordinating RCIA, and I/we had a problem of a different nature then. A young man presented himself for confirmation, but there was no record of his baptism at the parish. We had the testimony of his grandmother, who was a witness at the liturgy. She also told us it was one of those “groovy 60s priests” who couldn’t seem to be bothered by paperwork and such. Maybe he was a Franciscan, she didn’t know. I had to consult on what to do. Do you take granny’s word for it? Baptize conditionally? Which parish gets the record of baptism now?

Speaking of conditional, I do remember a priest doing that once, using the words “I conditionally baptize you …” I suppose that was invalid too. Place the adverb before the pronoun: that is important.

Usually the priest errors I’ve seen are minor ones, not affecting sacramental matter or form. Oil of catechumens for baptism chrismation–things like that.

Back to the Phoenix website, I noticed they have a Q&A that includes:

Does this affect my marriage?

What they don’t ask is this: Does this affect my ordination? I’ve thought about it before: what if a priest doesn’t want to go through all the bother of laicization? What if a bishop wants to be rid of some bothersome cleric? A few minutes to check the pedigree of the minister of baptism, and maybe there’s an easy out clause. Imagine a priest filling out a rebaptism form: baptism-check, confirmation-check, ordination-pass.

What if a minister has a dry throat or frog or something as the baptism formula is uttered. Does an “I” have to be audible? What if the English dipthong only has the “ah” sound? Or the “ee”? What if the formula is spoken with a strong accent so that “I” or one of the other words is unintelligible? For the record, I have no intention of submitting these questions to the CDF.

I suppose someone is sifting through the baptism registry at St Gregory and other parishes he served. Do they put red marks through the entries? Will they track the percentage of people who might not bother to re-up on the sacramental front?

Last comment: is this CDF overreach? Isn’t the matter and form of a sacrament the purview of the liturgy dicastery?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Church News, Rite of Baptism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Problem of Father Arango

  1. Liam says:

    Matter and form of sacraments might have been under the purview of the Holy Office, the predecessor of the current CDF, because of its role in enforcing canon law et cet.

    For what it’s worth, Roman Catholicism cannot be credibly accused of making valid baptisms difficult in the least; it has a wealth of history of fairly low threshold, much broader than that of, say, some of the Eastern churches. That said, baptised or not being a distinctively disjunctive binary, the thresholds that are there are a very hard bite, to borrow from canine training.

    Clerics come and go, the people in the pews have to mop up the messes left by them. This is the chief *pastoral* reason I strongly inveigh against ritual creativity in the discipline of sacraments by lone ranger clergy, having lived through the dénouement of such in a community that became riven and never fully recovered from it and closed within several years thereafter despite efforts to repair and move on from it. (The event happened to have been witnessed by someone visiting from one of the pontifical universities in Rome, so there was no credible way of hiding or finessing it. Presiding clergy never know who might happen to be attendance on a given day; let that be a warning.)

  2. Omar C. says:

    So what happened to ones who were baptized by Father Arango and died? Are they in (limbo”? The bishop should tell their families that those who died will never be accepted into Heaven.

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