The French priest who was caught on video slapping a visibly frightened child during its baptism has been identified and suspended from all baptisms and marriage celebrations.
In a statement released Friday by Meaux Dioceses in France, Father Jacques Lacroix, 89, has been removed from all activities surrounding the church after the video went viral, causing rage and indignation by millions of people who viewed it.
“Since June 21, a video circulates in the press and social networks on which we can see a priest (89 years), celebrate the baptism of a child in Seine-et-Marne,” the statement read. “This short video is an excerpt from the celebration 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 diocese wrote Lacroix was likely tired when the little boy began to cry although they added that the elder’s behavior “does not excuse him.”
“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,” the statement continued. “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 baptized and our brother Jacques Lacroix,” it concluded.
Lacroix addressed the incident on France Info radio on Friday calling the incident “something between a caress and a little slap,” according to the AFP.
“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.”
Footage of Lacroix was shared on YouTube, Twitter and Reddit where it was viewed around the world.
In the 43-second video, Lacroix is shown holding the child’s tear-filled face as the boy sits in a woman’s arms. He appeared to attempt to comfort the child and, in the middle of the video, is shown slapping the child across his cheek.
A man and woman, who appear to be the boy’s parents, are shown with shocked expressions as the child immediately began to scream. The priest is shown pulling the child closer as a woman, who appeared to be a church official, briefly approached him.
The baby appeared to struggle in Lacroix’s arms, attempting to free himself. Soon, the man nearby forcibly removes the child from the priest’s arms.
It is unclear where and when the video was taken, and little information is known about the circumstances surrounding the incident.