A priest who slapped a child for crying during his baptism has broken his silence, announcing he’s been forced into retirement.
89-year-old Father Jacques Lacroix, hit a two-year-old boy during his baptism ceremony at the Collegiate Church in Champeaux, France last Sunday (June 17).
Footage of the incident shows Father Jacques shouting ‘calm down’ at the tearful boy, before slapping him on the cheek with his left hand.
You can watch the video here:
After the aggressive act, the horrified parents can be seen trying to prise their child out of the Catholic priest’s grip, with other family members rushing to help.
However, speaking to France Info radio yesterday, (June 22), Father Jacques denies he was too severe, saying:
It was somewhere between a caress and a slap, I hoped to calm him down, I didn’t know what to do.
The child was screaming a lot and I had to turn his head to pour water over it.
I told him to ‘calm down, calm down’ but he was not calming down. I tried to hold him close. I just wanted him to calm down.
I apologised for my clumsiness to the family. I am finishing my ministry now, it was my last baptism, there is an end to everything.
The priest was identified in a statement released on Friday, (June 22), by Meaux Dioceses in France, following the video going viral.
It confirmed Father Jacques had been suspended from all baptisms and marriage celebrations.
The statement read in full:
Since June 21, a video circulates in the press and social networks on which we can see a priest (89-years-old), celebrate the baptism of a child in Seine-et-Marne.
This short video is an excerpt from the celebration during which the baby cries a lot. The elderly priest loses his temper and slaps the child. Aware of this inappropriate gesture, the priest apologized to the family at the end of the baptism.
This loss of coolness can be explained by the tiredness of this elderly priest, but that does not excuse him.
This Friday, this video has been viewed more than five million times (on social networks and on the YouTube web channel) and has been taken over by French and international media. To this day, it arouses indignation and anger.
On Friday, June 22, Bishop Nahmias, Bishop of Meaux, took provisional measures to ensure that the priest was suspended from all baptism and marriage celebrations. These measures also require him not to intervene on the Collegiate Church of Champeaux now and to celebrate masses only at the express request of the parish priest.
Let us confide to the Lord the family of the baptised and our brother Jacques Lacroix.
It’s unclear who took the video and how it emerged online, with the parents refusing to comment on this.
They’ve reportedly accepted the priest’s apology.
Father Jacques will now only be allowed to celebrate mass in the future, if cleared.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.