Statement by San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy regarding Baptisms by Fr. Andrés Arango

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 16, 2022) — Bishop Robert W. McElroy, of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, issued the following statement today:

“The Diocese of San Diego has received inquiries about the pastoral situation of men and women who were baptized by Father Andrés Arango during the brief period in which he served in the Diocese of San Diego a generation ago. Since Father Arango utilized an invalid formula in baptisms in the Diocese of Phoenix in recent years, that diocese has taken steps to identify and re-baptize men and women.

“It is unclear if any invalid baptisms by Father Arango took place within the Diocese of San Diego. If any such baptisms did take place, it is impossible 20 years later to analyze the nature of each specific baptismal formula that was used in individual baptisms, find the person who was baptized, and re-baptize them.

“Fortunately, this is essentially a pastoral dilemma rather than solely a matter of church law. The theology of the Church teaches that God binds himself to the efficacy of validly celebrated sacraments. But that same theology states that God is not bound by the limitations of the sacraments. The bounty of God’s grace powerfully suggests that any men and women who were possibly baptized so long ago have received from the Lord the graces of baptism and all that goes with them in their lives. And thus, they should be at ease.

“If anyone who was baptized by Father Arango in our diocese wishes to discuss this personal pastoral situation in greater depth, I would ask them to please call me personally.”