Priest Forced Into Retirement After Viral Video Shows Him Slapping a Crying Baby

A French Catholic priest was forced into retirement after video of him slapping a crying 2-year-old boy during his baptism went viral.

On Sunday, 89-year-old Father Jacques Lacroix was baptizing the boy at the Collegiate Church in Champeaux, near the south-eastern Paris suburbs, reports The Daily Mail.

"Calm down, calm down, you must calm down," Lacroix said during the ceremony to the boy as he cried. The priest then took the baby's face in his hands and said, "Be quiet."

Then, the priest slapped the boy on his cheek. Immediately, the boy's parents snap into action, trying to get their child away from the priest.

On Friday, Lacroix told France Info Radio he did not think the slap was extreme and defended his actions before announcing his retirement.

"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," Lacroix said, reports The Sun. "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."

Meaux Bishop Jean-Yvees confirmed he removed Lacroix from performing marriages and baptisms. From now on, he can only celebrate mass and will need approval first.

"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," the Bishop explained, reports The Sun. He added that Lacroix's behavior "can be explained by not excused."

The Bishop said the boy's parents accepted Lacroix's apology and were happy to have him baptised. However, the officials did not say how the video ended up on YouTube.

The video surfaced on YouTube on Wednesday. One posting of the clip has over 2.9 million views.

Back in May, another violent baptism went viral. The clip from Cyprus showed a Greek Orthodox clergyman swinging a naked baby boy by his arms as he dunked the baby in a basin three times. While the parents in that scene were not horrified, Twitter users were, reports The Daily Mail.

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"Oh my I bet this baby is left brain dead," one Twitter user wrote after seeing the video.

Photo credit: YouTube