A French Catholic priest was suspended Friday after a video of him smacking a crying baby during a baptism ceremony went viral, drawing widespread condemnation on social media.
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In footage posted on Twitter on Thursday, gasps can be heard when the 89-year-old priest, after ordering the infant he is holding to “be quiet”, sharply slaps his cheek.
A shocking incident in a French church as a frustrated priest slaps baby who won’t stop crying during baptism ceremony.pic.twitter.com/z8LUfslwVH
— Universal Life Church (@ulcmonastery) June 21, 2018
A few seconds later he smacks him again.
A baby slaps a palm because he cries as he baptizes him and does not shut up. He tries to suffocate him without the intervention of the father.
If the Muslim Sheikh was the whole world accused of terrorism and media and now
— ذعار التوم (@thaar0511) June 22, 2018
The baby’s parents, visibly shocked, eventually manage to extricate the child from the priest’s grip during the ceremony in Champeaux, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Paris.
“This loss of self-control can be attributed to the fatigue of an elderly priest, but that doesn’t excuse it,” the diocese of Meaux, which includes the town, said in a statement.
It said the priest would no longer be leading baptisms and weddings nor holding mass until further notice.
“The child was bawling and I needed to turn his head so I could pour the water. I was saying ‘be quiet’ but he wouldn’t calm down,” the priest told France Info radio on Friday.
“It was something between a caress and a little slap,” he said. “I was trying to calm him down; I didn’t really know what to do.”