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20 years of baptisms are invalid at a Phoenix diocese. How this issue was handled in the past

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix made national — and even international — headlines after it told thousands of Valley Catholics their baptisms may be invalid. Baptisms are a foundational rite in the Catholic church that, in turn, affect other sacraments they have received.

And the reason has baffled many: The priest in question, Rev. Andres Arango, of St. Gregory’s parish in west Phoenix, used one wrong word in performing the rite. Rev. Arango resigned after the diocese’s announcement; he had been a priest since 1995.

Now, some sacraments may have to be performed again — including some marriages. But Tracy Fessenden says this is not the first time this has happened.

Fessenden is co-director for the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University. 

The Show spoke with her to learn about similar occurrences.

The Show also reached out to the Phoenix Diocese about this decision, which referred us to their website where the decision was announced. On it, officials say they are “saddened” by the announcement and offer letters from the bishop, as well as the priest in question, as well as answer a string of questions from parishioners.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.