By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A Catholic priest in the Spainish province of Valencia is sparking controversy after slapping a parishioner who threw a consecrated host to the ground.
Although the details are sketchy, Spero News is reporting that the incident occurred on Sept. 5 in Rotova, Spain, during a local festival. Apparently, Fr. Victor Jimeno believed a young man had discarded a consecrated Host and responded by slapping him and escorting him out of the church while denouncing him as a “blasphemer.”
The victim, who is said to have returned the blow, is claiming innocence, saying that it was a friend who tossed the Host to the floor.
Fr. Jimeno has since spoken to the parents of the boy who “has taken to bed in an apparent fit of pique” and a local politician is calling for all parties to sit down and discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, a friend of the young man who was slapped has come forward to say that his friend threw the Host to the floor during a fit of choking. He also said the young man was “very upset and unrepentant.”
Meanwhile, Fr. Jimeno is concerned about all the attention the incident is causing. “Rótova is a small town, a big family, and we don’t want the news to go further.”
His wish is not being realized as news of the incident spread rapidly throughout the Catholic world, with many groups cheering the priest for his bold action during a time when acts of desecration of the Eucharist are on the rise in Europe.
The initial reaction so far seems to be, “Good for Padre,” writes InsideCatholic blogger Margaret Cabaniss. “Most people find it refreshing, I think, to see a priest take blasphemy so seriously, and treat it accordingly.”
Pat Archbold, of the Creative Minority Report, admits that there are different schools of thought on whether or not the priest acted appropriately. “Some will undoubtedly say that the priest should have counseled the young man on exactly what is wrong with what he did. They would say that violence solves nothing.
“Another school might suppose that the young man deserved what he got and the swift punishment for his reprehensible actions will serve as a poignant reminder to the young man and to anyone else who might be so foolish to attempt the same.”
As for Archbold, he belongs to the second school of thought, and tells the story of how he was slapped by the Dean of Students at his Catholic high school for “mouthing off” to a teacher. After being slapped in front of everyone, he was hauled out of the classroom and dragged down to the Dean’s office where he received severe tongue-lashing.
What was the result of this punishment? “It never did happen again,” Archbold says.
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