Priest suspended after viral video shows him slapping baby during baptism

A French priest has been suspended from “all baptism and marriage celebrations” after a viral video showed him slapping a baby on the face during a baptism ceremony, the diocese said.

Father Jacque Lacroix, 89, a priest who belonged to the Meaux Diocese, became a viral sensation after a YouTube video showed him giving a baby a slap on the cheek. The video, which has been viewed more than 5 million times, sparked backlash from viewers.

The diocese released a statement on Friday regarding the viral video, saying that Lacroix has been suspended.

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“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,” the statement read.

The diocese then announced that Lacroix was “suspended from all baptism and marriage celebrations.”

“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,” the statement concluded.

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Lacroix spoke to France Info radio about the video, referring to the hit as “something between a caress and a little slap,” AFP reported.

“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,” Lacroix said. “It was something between a caress and a little slap. I was trying to calm him down, I didn’t really know what to do.”

The video made the rounds on Reddit, YouTube and Twitter. It was not immediately clear when the video was recorded.