Father Jacques Lacroix, 89, who was caught on video last week slapping the face of a fractious two-year-old he’d just baptised, has been forced into retirement.
According to this report, Jean-Yves Nahmias, the Catholic bishop of Meaux, said he had:
Taken measures so that the priest is suspended from all baptism and marriage celebrations.
The bishop said Lacroix would only be allowed to celebrate mass in the future if he had secured prior permission, adding that the priest had been guilty of:
A loss of coolness that can be explained but not excused.
The bishop added:
This gesture is all the more regrettable because the baptism is meant to be a happy moment, but tiredness and great age clearly played a part.
In the video, which has been seen by over 111,000 people on YouTube, the priest is heard to say:
I’m going to put water on the forehead, and after I’ll embrace the little man, because he will have become a little Christian.
When the “little Christian” made clear he was having none of this bollocks and began crying, Lacroix delivered a vicious slap to the child’s face.
Those gathered in the church can be heard to tell the cleric: “Don’t hit the child,” and: “Sir, we do not hit him,” but he is seemingly unapologetic.
The mother pleads with the priest to let go, but he continues to grip the boy by the head.
The father is then able to wrestle the baby away and into his arms, as another woman attending the service also intervenes in a bid to ease tensions when the video cuts out.
In an interview with French Info radio on Friday, the priest denied that he had been too severe with the child.
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.
A sorrowful Lacroix added:
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.