A man posing as a priest was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona last week, after celebrating Mass, presiding at a funeral, weddings and baptisms during his three weeks in the pulpit. The Arizona Republic newspaper reported on Friday, that Freddrick Mark Brito, 46, was arrested on a California warrant alleging grand theft and embezzlement. He had been an associate pastor at Immaculate Heart and St Anthony's churches since 26 May. Reporter Michael Clancy writes that an investigation by The Arizona Republic uncovered a criminal record dating from 1979 that the Phoenix Diocese and, earlier, the Tucson Diocese failed to uncover. Embarrassed Phoenix diocesan officials said they were "thankful" no serious harm was done during Brito's brief stint in the pulpit. But the church has been deluged with calls from distressed parishioners concerned as to whether services have been valid or not. They have been told that while the obligation to attend Sunday Mass would have been met by attending a Mass at which Brito presided, the Eucharist would not have been authentic; the baptisms he performed remain valid, but the marriages would not be recognised by the church. The diocese is now looking at how Brito managed to dupe church officials. They have also called in lawyers to examine each case, and will be issuing a further statement.
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