A Catholic priest was caught on video violently slapping an infant he was baptizing, and video of the event has gone viral, the Independent is reporting.
On Wednesday, the video was posted to YouTube and quickly racked up over one million views. Entitled “Un prêtre gifle un nourrisson” (“A priest slaps an infant”), the video gives very little in the way of context. It’s not clear when or where it was taken, although the fact that the priest can be heard speaking in French suggests that he video was recorded in France. Nor is the name of the priest provided, something that officials in his diocese, as well as the local authorities, may be interested in knowing.
The 40-second video starts out innocently enough. The elderly priest begins the ceremony by addressing the young tot.
“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.”
As infants are wont to do, the infant took exception to having water poured on his head and being handled by strangers, and began to fuss and cry. The priest grabs the boy by the face and raises his voice.
“Stop crying, calm down. Calm down.”
After a little more fussing, the priest loses his temper and slaps the infant across the cheek.
Warning: The video below contains graphic content and may be disturbing to some viewers.
After the slap, the shocked congregants can be heard gasping. Others express their displeasure at the priest.
“Don’t hit the kid.”
“Sir, we do not hit him.”
The priest, meanwhile, continues to insist that the baptism-gone-awry is the baby’s fault.
“You have to calm down, you have to calm down. There you go.”
Meanwhile, the mother pleads with the cleric to let the baby go, but the priest continues to grip him by his head. Then, the baby’s father tries to intervene, getting into a shoving match with the priest, trying to wrestle the infant away. Eventually, the father regains possession of his son.
At this point, another person in the congregation intervenes, attempting to calm down the priest, before the video cuts out.
Since the video was posted without context, it’s all but impossible so say if it’s even real, as it may very well have been a hoax, a scene from a TV show or movie, a part of a viral marketing campaign, or any number of things. Or it may very well have been a crime against a tiny baby in the context of a religious ceremony. But as of this writing, all that’s known about the video is what has been described above.