On 22 June, CheckNews — the fact-checking arm of French newspaper Libération — reported (translation):


The scene unfolded during a baptism, which took place on 17 June in a church in Seine-et-Marne, not in Martinique or Belgium, as you might have read on social media in recent days.


When contacted by CheckNews, the spokesperson for the diocese said… the priest apologized to the family after the incident, and the baby was indeed baptized.

According to Libération, the diocesan spokesperson described the priest’s actions as “understandable, but not excusable,” and said: “A baptism can be long, and the baby was crying a lot.” In a statement published on 22 June, the diocese of Meaux, located 30 miles east of Paris, confirmed the priest’s suspension (translation):


This short video was an extract from a ceremony in which the baby was crying a lot. The elderly priest lost his cool and slapped the child. Mindful of this unwarranted act, the priest apologized to the family after the baptism. The loss of temper can be explained by the elderly priest’s tiredness, but that does not excuse it.


On Friday 22 June, Monsignor [Jean Yves] Nahmias, Bishop of Meaux, took precautionary measures whereby the priest is suspended from all marriage and baptism ceremonies.

The diocese has also suspended the priest from his duties at the parish church of Saint-Martin de Champeaux, where he is the rector, the statement added.


According to Émilie Geffray, a reporter for the French newspaper Le Figaro, the family of the child has filed a complaint against the priest, but it’s not clear whether that relates to the diocese or if formal criminal charges have been filed.


Dan MacGuill