NCReg: Priest Slaps Young Man For Desecrating Eucharist

From an article by Pat Archbold in the National Catholic Register, with my emphases and comments:

Recently there has been a rash of desecration of the Eucharist during communion time.  As a result, there have been some calls to restore communion on the tongue. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

That is one solution.

Here is another.

A priest in Valencia Spain witnessed a young man during communion take the Eucharist and throw it on the floor.  The priest then decided on a course of action that one could properly call old school apologetics of the corporal kind.

The priest slapped the young man across the face and dragged him from the Church and loudly pronounced him a ‘blasphemer.[OORAH!]

There are different schools of thought on this.  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.

I have every reason to believe that when I was a young man, if I had desecrated the Eucharist my parents would have held me down while the priest pummeled some repentance into me.

In trying to decide where I fall on the slap/don’t slap spectrum,  I recall when I was 16 in an all boys Catholic High School run by the Franciscans.  One day I was mouthing off in a very disrespectful way to a teacher during French class.  At that time, the Dean of Students, a certain Brother Gabriel, happened to be walking by the open door of the classroom and heard my disrespect.

Without a moment’s hesitation he walked right into the classroom and up to me.  He ordered me to stand up whereupon he smacked me right across the face.  Twenty four other young men took a deep breath in unison.  The dean had my attention and the attention of everyone else in that classroom.  He then grabbed me by the ear, apologized to the teacher on my behalf and escorted me to his office.

He sat me down and stared me down.  After what seemed an eternity, he asked me what I had to say for myself.  I briefly entertained making some cute remark about whether St. Francis would approve of the Dean’s five-knuckle attention getter but quickly thought better of it since I recently had an epiphany that I no longer lived in a consequence-free world.  So I said, “I am sorry, it will never happen again.”

And here is the thing, it never did happen again.  When Brother slapped me across the face, the thought of complaining never even crossed my mind because there was one thing I knew for sure.  I had it coming.  I knew better than to behave in such a way and that slap served as a stinging reminder.

As for me, there is no school like the ol’ school.

Swing away.

Proverbs 13:24

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134 Responses to NCReg: Priest Slaps Young Man For Desecrating Eucharist

  1. Hidden One says:

    I am reminded that “humiliare” means both “to humiliate” and “to humble”.

    Watch a bunch of commenters write, “I wish _____ would do that to ________!” or variations on it.

    The priest certainly has guts. The principle seems fine to me. I don’t want the details of this specific case (cf. Spero link) to get in the way of that.

  2. Paulus Magnus says:

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  3. Vilallonga says:

    The priest didn’t say “blasphemer”. He said: “¡sacrílego!”

  4. I seem to remember somebody posting an excerpt from St. John Chrysostom, in which that Doctor of the Church declared that heretics need to be smitten across the face and made to fear ever airing their pernicious opinions in public, lest some Christian overhear and sharply rebuke them.

    And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify your hand with the blow, and if any should accuse you, and drag you to the place of justice, follow them thither; and when the judge on the bench calls you to account, say boldly that the man blasphemed the King of angels! For if it be necessary to punish those who blaspheme an earthly king, much more so those who insult God. It is a common crime, a public injury; and it is lawful for every one who is willing, to bring forward an accusation. Let the Jews and Greeks learn, that the Christians are the saviours of the city; that they are its guardians, its patrons, and its teachers. Let the dissolute and the perverse also learn this; that they must fear the servants of God too; that if at any time they are inclined to utter such a thing, they may look round every way at each other, and tremble even at their own shadows, anxious lest perchance a Christian, having heard what they said, should spring upon them and sharply chastise them.

  5. Jack Hughes says:

    @Anita Moore OPL

    If I followed the advice of St John Chrysostom then within two weeks my sister and my mother would be covered in blows.

  6. Robert of Rome says:

    The Pope doesn’t have a priest brother in Valencia, does he?

  7. Fr. A.M. says:

    Generally speaking one should follow the advice of St. John Bosco when bringing young people up (see the second reading for the Office of Readings for his memoria in the new Liturgy of the Hours). I do not think we should hit young people – discipline can be exercised in a different way, though I understand how frustrated teachers and priests can feel at times. For parents, it is a different matter. If they have to resort to some form of corporal punishment, then it should not be excessive, and appropriate. I often think about a relation of mine whose father was a bit too ‘heavy handed’, and the affect that will have on him later in life. I remember a Mass at school, in the school hall, many years ago. Some pupils were talking during the distribution of Holy Communion. The priest was quite annoyed at this, and eventually told them to ‘shut up’, which they did (!).

  8. asperges says:

    It says much for the priest’s faith and public witness to an outrage, but in Europe it is more likely to get him into serious criminal proceedings for using violence. Strong verbal admonition is safer and just as effective if not more so. He could also technically be arrested for disturbance of a church service in some countries.

    One also has to ask whether Christ Himself would have slapped him on the face or have rebuked him without the violence.

  9. David Collins says:

    A good question, asperges, but remember He did clear out the temple all by Himself once. It stands to reason He must have been intimidating when He wanted to be – and as He will be someday!

  10. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Asperges: Although the faith and outrage of the lay faithful might give them at times the right to use physical force on those guilty of acts of sacrilege, I don’t believe this is appropriate for a priest. Jesus said to His first priests, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”

    Yes, Jesus did physically punish the money changers in the Temple, but He did not commission His priests to do likewise. He commissioned us to seek out the lost sheep, to bind up their wounds, and to intercede for them, “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘It is mercy I desire.’”

    I sympathize with the priest in Spain. In Hispanic cultures, it is not unheard of for the clergy to do these things. I myself, in the seven parishes I have pastored, have taken serious disrespect at times from teens and young adults and know how that makes you feel. But if I ever strike them, with what face shall I get up on Sunday and preach that they be peaceable and forgiving? I strongly believe that when people see the hands of the priest, it should only be to bless them, absolve them, hold their hand in deep moments of sorrow, feed them with the Bread of Angels, and when they are gravely ill, to gently administer the last rites which will prepare them for their judgement.

  11. capchoirgirl says:

    That is awesome. “No school like the old school!”

  12. albizzi says:

    I remember my young years by the end of the fifties in a Marist college in France held by marist brothers.
    The laziest boy of the classroom was publicly scourged in the legs with a cudgel every month.
    Useless to say, nobody wanted to share his chastisement next time and we strived hard not to be the last of the classroom.
    “No school like the old school!”

  13. The original story notes that the boy may be innocent, and that the priest admits he may have made a mistake.

  14. trentecoastal39 says:

    I don’t Agree with The Priest’s Actions,But There should Be Respect for The Holy Eucharist!

  15. Ismael says:

    @ Jack Huges:

    There is common sense in all. Punishing someone does not have to be the same as abusing or seriously hurt him/her.

    —-

    I am personally against too harsh physical punishments (caning, paddle, strap, etc…) that were implemented in the past in homes and un schools, but a slap in the face might be necessary sometimes…

    Some kids or young man are jut too unruly, taking away their x-box or just giving them a stern talk often fails to impress them and they soon lose any respect for their parents or educators.

  16. Mike says:

    I think parents have the right/obligation to use a little force to discipline their own kids, but when those kids are quite young–terrible 2s and such–with a shock and awe slap to the hand or diaper. But never too hard. One can’t reason with most two year olds, and when one tries, absent a little physical re-inforcement, the child can grow up thinking actions have little or no consequence, which of course is the culture we are all living in now.

    If one has a certain timbre of voice, that can do just as well–and for teachers and priests, I believe it is always the way to go.

    Our Lord in the temple? He rocked the place, with perfectly just wrath.

  17. When the New Testament wont work, might as well try the Old. Especially effective on adolescent boys who have grown up in a world that teaches them they are invincible.

  18. Philangelus says:

    The idea of counseling this young man as to not desecrating the Eucharist presupposes that he cares enough not to do it. Assuming he did it deliberately, the options are:

    1) he was forced to go to Communion and didn’t want to, so he “showed them.”
    2) he wanted to harm the Eucharist
    3) he was totally in ignorance of what the Eucharist is

    In case #3, counseling would help. But what are the odds that he threw it on the floor because he didn’t know what this was? If you don’t know, then the obvious thing to do is go and eat the piece of bread and sit down, just like everyone else.

    The choice to throw it on the ground is the choice to make a scene, otherwise he’d be like too many other people who palm it and then leave it in the pew or in the missal for other people to find later. :-(

    So why would you want to make a scene? Well, either to show Mom that she can make you get in line but she can’t make you receive, or because you want to offend Catholics, or because you want to offend God. None of which are going to be attitudes that are receptive to counseling. If he wanted to offend Catholics or offend God, then counseling by the priest is simply going to reinforce in his mind that this is the way to go. :-b

    And if he did it to make sure Mom and Dad knew they couldn’t force him to be good, then it’s Mom and Dad who require the counseling. *sigh*

  19. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    It seems somebody may have a devotion to St. Nicholas!

    If ever there were a place for a physical reaction. This sort of thing would be the one

  20. ray from mn says:

    I didn’t go to a Christian Brothers school, but some friends of mine did.

    They said that the practice there when somebody was exceedingly obnoxious was to have a boxing match in front of the whole school between the student and the smallest of the Brothers. Of course, the Brothers were trained well in boxing, unlike students who were just “sluggers.”

    On went the heavy gloves. And basically with fast footwork and a lot of light jabs, the Brother would be able to make quick work out of the wildly swinging, and exceedingly more embarrassed, student who never was able to land a punch. All to great amusement of the student body.

  21. Fr. Basil says:

    What happened to the desecrated Host?

  22. Maggie45 says:

    Wow, Father, it looks like the National Catholic Register site is down. Must have been caused by a WDTPRS launch, rather like an Instalaunch…. just saying…. ;)

  23. irishgirl says:

    ‘Ooorah’ to the priest! Good for him, I say!

    Yes, Our Lord WAS angry when He threw the moneychangers out of the Temple; He was no ‘wimp’! He came from a warrior race, He was of the tribe of Judah, King David’s tribe.

    Speaking of smacking a kid on the behind, there’s a family who attends the EF Mass in the same chapel I go to. They have five children under the age of ten. When the youngest boy and girl ‘act up’, they get a haul out into the tiny vestibule (usually by the father) and behind closed doors, I can hear distinctly three or four sharp slaps on the backside!

  24. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    Nothing could be worse than desecrating our Lord, the most precious and important thing the Church Militant has. It is an outrage, sacrilege, and yes, blasphemy. I share the same emotions that a corporal route of punishment was appropriate. That being said:

    Not within the context of Mass. Or any other liturgy for that matter. Ever.

    Take his name and escort him from Church. Ask an usher to wait with him in the rear of the building.

    There is a time for everything, and our liturgies are not a time for violence or even for personal counsel.

    I fear that the priest, as good as his intentions in preserving the Sacrament were, will now be known as “The Priest Who Hit Johnny”.

    I’m all for a strict sense of the sacred, and absolute respect for the Eucharistic Lord, but I just don’t think this was right.

  25. Desertfalcon says:

    The point in such public corporal punishment that the writer misses is that such action is for the benefit of those who witness it as much as it is for the offender. Whatever the argument of whether the young man will find the “correction” beneficial or not, you can bet your bottom peseta that every communicant in the future will be especially careful whilst receiving Holy Eucharist from that priest. :)

  26. thereseb says:

    I see from Spero that the young man has taken to his bed in a sulk. Very mature.

  27. Gail F says:

    “To smite means to smack upside the head. And sometimes, brothers and sisters, that’s the only way!”

  28. JohnE says:

    I say if corporal desecration is done in the context of a Mass, then corporal punishment is appropriate. Continuing as though nothing serious happened would be more troubling to me.

  29. Melody Faith says:

    The young man’s actions were BOLD and DRAMATIC. He meant to have an effect on everyone present. The priest’s actions were correct, proportional, and showed to both the young man and the congregation the gravity of his “display”.

  30. Geoffrey says:

    There is no excuse for violence, especially in a church, during Mass, and from a priest. Christ Himself may have turned over the tables of the merchants in the Temple, but did He ever strike someone?

  31. Obviously this took place someplace other than the United States:

    1. No lawyers have held press conferences yet.
    2. The Priest is still assigned where he has been.

  32. memoriadei says:

    This would not have been appropriate for talking back or chiding. But, this is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. Anyone, IMO, who thinks that the priest went too far, may well not understand the depths of our Holy Eucharist. Bravo to the priest!

  33. At the risk of having an unpopular opinion here….

    I’m not totally opposed to corporal punishment in certain circumstances. However, this is not one of them. You can’t slap love for our Eucharistic Lord into someone. You may bring an end to the act of desecration, but it doesn’t mean the heart of the young man will be turned, if it was ignorance, unbelief, rebellion, or willful intent with belief that it was Our Lord he spit out.

    I found myself reflecting on how someone else might react if confronted with such a situation.

    I’m going to use Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the author of Dominus Est, whom I have had the pleasure of speaking with personally and photographing on his two trips into Detroit. I don’t see him executing a summary slap, but reacting with great sorrow for the desecration, taking the time to do what needs to be done to care for the desecrated Host accordingly. I would imagine he might weep, perhaps even before the congregation as he cleaned up, not to make a statement, but because of the pain. He would not only weep for the offense committed against the Blessed Sacrament, but perhaps moreso for the wounded soul that could do such a thing, especially if it were deliberate. That the bishop would later make an act of reparation would be an understatement (as should all of us upon learning about such a thing).

    He would want to know: Was it ignorance of the Real Presence? Rebellion against something other than God Himself? Unbelief? Or, a belief in the Real Presence, but a desire to desecrate the Eucharistic Lord? If the latter were the case, I would think the young man would not have spit out Our Lord in the presence of the priest. In any event, I think the bishop, out of love and concern, not anger or outrage, would try to learn from the boy the cause of this act…. after Mass, in privacy.

    This is a soul which, depending on the young man’s intent, is in need of serious reconciliation and Sacramental Confession. Force is least likely to prompt belief if it is lacking, and reconciliation. It goes againsy free will. On the outside he may comply to avoid further punishment or anger, but it won’t move his heart. Who then is responsible, if his heart grows even more distant from, or contemptuous of, Our Lord in the Eucharist?

    With regards to drawing the attention of the Congregation to the boy during Mass in a public way with the slap, there is something else we can learn from Our Lord as pointed out by St. Augustine when he wrote, “On Patience”:

    Of this patience Himself afforded and showed an example, when, before the passion of His Body, He so bore with His disciple Judas, that ere He pointed him out as the traitor, He endured him as a thief; and before experience of bonds and cross and death, did, to those lips so full of guile, not deny the kiss of peace.

    I think we should pray for the boy, and for the priest. He meant well, but I suspect he will be having some regrets, if he doesn’t already.

  34. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    Fr. Jay- agreed, on both counts.

    Violence belongs not in our Churches, especially within Her liturgies.

    In another point, it could have been a teaching moment, postCommunion, about humility, respect, sense of the sacred, penance, and prayer. Catechesis for those present.

  35. Luke says:

    It would seem the the first duty of any Priest is to defend and guard the Eucharist. Whether this action was the best or second best, that Priest did defend our blessed Lord. We live in strange times today. I agree with Proverbs 13;24 and I propose that we make Proverbs 13:25 the slogan for our day: “The just man eats and his soul is filled, but the belly of the unjust is never to be filled.”

  36. Mrs McG says:

    I am frankly deeply shocked at all those who think the slap was inappropriate. Do we believe that the Body of Christ is what we say it is, or not? This wasn’t some sort of “teachable moment” or an “opportunity for catechesis.” Descration like this is nothing short of evil — perfectly vile! That priest is a man of faith, who thought nothing of himself or the consequences of his actions. He acted out of love for Our Lord.

    Please, let’s not be prissy. Don’t you people ever watch Westerns? Insulting a man’s woman would have gotten more than a slap! Chivalry defends the helpless, defenseless victim — or Victim in this case. And, I wholehearted believe that mercy sometimes comes to us, even from GOD, in the form of a slap on the cheek.

  37. Mrs. McG,

    The Victim you speak of is not defenseless by any means. A legion of angels could have been sent to prevent this incident. Further, the Victim Himself thirsts for the soul who did this for him. What is the best way to create thirst in the offender? Our Lord admonished against defending him with the sword.

    Further, we simply cannot judge the motivation behind the actions of this young man. This is very basic. That is why his conscience needs to be probed by a qualified person – a priest/confessor – in order to discern that. After nearly 50 years of very shoddy catechesis, there is a greater chance that the boy does not know or believe in the Real Presence. Slapping belief into him is the least effective means of getting there.

    It is hardly being “prissy” to go this route. Rather, the easier thing is to let go in a moment of anger than to have resraint.

    We have to be careful to not let our desire to protect the Eucharist or see justice done, turn into a desire for some form of vengeance for the offense. That belongs to God. The primary objective of any priest, imho, in a case like this, is not to slap and then ask why, but to ask why first, and then take appropriate measures. In this case, it is important to get the boy to penitence by reason, not by force.

  38. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Fr. AM – Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that St. John Bosco punched a boy while he was bilocating for speaking in way that did not befit his boys. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere on his radar screen if I was going to do something like desecrate the Eucharist.

    Honestly, if this boy did what he is supposed to have done, he was asking for it. It at least shows the world we do take the Real Presence seriously. We’re not doing a great job of doing that right now.

  39. chironomo says:

    I do not think we should hit young people – discipline can be exercised in a different way, though I understand how frustrated teachers and priests can feel at times

    It didn’t say the Priest HIT the young man, it says he “slapped” him. While it may seem like splitting hairs to some, there is quite a difference in the real world. You slap someone with the intention of getting their attention and reminding them who is in charge. You hit someone with the intention of causing physical damage, either for reasons of attacking an individual or defending yourself from the same. Musch the same as the difference between “spanking” a child and “beating” a child. Not the same thing when applied in the real world.

  40. Re: “And, I wholehearted believe that mercy sometimes comes to us, even from GOD, in the form of a slap on the cheek.”

    At Confirmation in the old days, certainly. :)

  41. Mrs McG says:

    Diane –

    In the form of the Eucharist, He is defenseless. And, though it is probably true that He does not strictly need our protection, our souls require for their own good that we be His defenders.

    Speaking only for myself, considering the anger such an act would have inflamed in my heart, a mere slap in the face WOULD have been a restrained response! You can’t read that young man’s heart either. You don’t know that all the counseling and spiritual chit-chat in the world would have done anything but made him scoff. And, I suspect you don’t understand the nature of men and what it is sometimes necessary to do to gain their respect. They are not like women.

  42. Mrs McG says:

    One last thought: I sure hope that my husband does not simply rely on angels to come to my defense if an attacker should break into our house and come after me. Certainly, God the Father could as easily send them to defend me as our Eucharistic Lord. In that case, why defend ANY victim? Catholics are not Quietists or pacifists — at least, they shouldn’t be.

  43. Diane, a few points:

    First off, this was an objectively sacrilegious act that needed to be dealt with instantly. The first miliseconds after it took place were not the time to analyze the motives behind it. Bringing an end to the sacrilege and rebuking the offender were precisely the things that needed to be done immediately. If the priest turned out to be mistaken, better he should have acted promptly out of love for his God and apologized later, than that he should have just let it pass.

    Secondly, I’m hard-pressed to see the sense in which the instant, shocking rebuke to the offender was not an act of mercy. I just do not accept the argument that this response could in no way change his heart. That kid needed to be persuaded of the gravity of what he had done, and he needed to be promptly shocked out of his complacency. Since weakness draws contempt, a failure to punish him instantly for his offense might have encouraged him to compound his guilt by doing it again. Also, if the truth be told, a slap across the face is nothing compared to the punishment such an offense actually deserves.

    Thirdly, there are other purposes for administering punishment than just changing the offender’s heart. There is putting an end to the offense. There is the infliction of a just penalty for the offense (as noted above, a smack across the face is a pretty mild punishment). There is deterrence. There is the prevention of scandal arising from the authority’s failure to act. To fail to inflict a just and swift punishment merely because it might not “change the offender’s heart” is a recipe for impotence in the face of evil.

    Fourthly, would you suggest the entire Mass be halted while the priest conducts a full-scale inquiry into this young man’s motivations? You could spend a month looking into this kid’s motivations and still not make an impression on him like the public slap across the face must have made.

    Fifthly, your reading from St. Augustine is not apposite. The Iscariot’s thefts were done in secret. Jesus refrained from exposing his guilt in order to avoid scandal and bring the offender to repentance. The offense we are talking about here, on the other hand, was done publicly; and the avoidance of scandal required public retribution.

    Sixthly, the fact that Jesus is not powerless to defend Himself is not an excuse for us to sit by while His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are desecrated. Jesus may suffer offenses against Himself, but it is not for us to suffer them to be committed with impunity.

    What happened here was an outrage. The response was appropriate.

    P.S. I seem to recall the Gospels say Jesus made a whip out of cords to drive the money-changers out of the Temple, so who says He didn’t thrash anybody?

  44. Geoffrey says:

    “But, this is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. Anyone, IMO, who thinks that the priest went too far, may well not understand the depths of our Holy Eucharist. Bravo to the priest!”

    I can’t help but recall this passage from Holy Thursday night, when Our Lord was in physical danger:

    “And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?’” (Mt. 26).

  45. Geoffrey:

    (a) We’re not talking about a sword here. We’re talking about the palm of somebody’s hand.

    (b) Can you come up with any Church Fathers or other reliable commentators who interpret this passage to mean that Jesus is either giving people license to commit sacrilege with impunity, or commanding His disciples not to respond to sacrilege?

  46. Random Friar says:

    In this situation, I found myself asking: WWDCD?

    “What would Don Camillo do?”

    [For something like this? He would have thrashed the kid within and inch of his life and then, after drying his tears (both of their tears), bought him an ice-cream, patted him on the head, and sent him home. Then he would probably have thrashed the kid's father, who is probably a Communist.]

  47. Geoffrey says:

    “Can you come up with any Church Fathers or other reliable commentators who interpret this passage to mean that Jesus is either giving people license to commit sacrilege with impunity, or commanding His disciples not to respond to sacrilege?”

    No I cannot, but can you come up with anything that says violence is an acceptable response to an act of sacrilege?

    Also, this was not an act of violence to stop the individual, rather it was done as a punishment. That is not the place of a priest, but a parent. Don’t we have enough problems? Do we really want more scandals?

  48. JosephMary says:

    Quote from Fr. Sotelo: I sympathize with the priest in Spain. In Hispanic cultures, it is not unheard of for the clergy to do these things. I myself, in the seven parishes I have pastored, have taken serious disrespect at times from teens and young adults and know how that makes you feel. But if I ever strike them, with what face shall I get up on Sunday and preach that they be peaceable and forgiving? I strongly believe that when people see the hands of the priest, it should only be to bless them, absolve them, hold their hand in deep moments of sorrow, feed them with the Bread of Angels, and when they are gravely ill, to gently administer the last rites which will prepare them for their judgement.

    Amen. I have to agree here. In the US, a lawsuit would be forthcoming no doubt.

  49. Mario Bird says:

    First, I’m waiting for a Pacifist to adequately deal with the example of Jesus in the Temple. The two arguments advanced thus far are pretty specious, viz. 1) Our Lord commissioned his priests to bind the wounded, heal the sick, etc., and 2) Our Lord may have driven the money changers out of the Temple, but did he ever strike anyone? The latter is not even an argument, and the former is a Protestant reading of the Gospel that, even on its own fundamentalist terms, holds no water, e.g. “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.”

    Second, once the Pacifists clear that hurdle, I’d like to see them deal with Aquinas’ opinion on the necessity of coercion for those men of a depraved disposition:

    But since some are found to be depraved, and prone to vice, and not easily amenable to words, it was necessary for such to be restrained from evil by force and fear, in order that, at least, they might desist from evil-doing, and leave others in peace, and that they themselves, by being habituated in this way, might be brought to do willingly what hitherto they did from fear, and thus become virtuous.

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2095.htm

    I take this to mean that force is necessary to cause depraved men from doing evil not only because it will keep them from hurting others, but more precisely because it will inspire a fear that will develop into virtue. That, I think, is the main point NOT of the Spanish story, but of the author’s own biographical anecdote, and none of the Pacifists have attacked this argument yet. Can it be attacked? Does a Pacifist, by his very nature, refuse to attack? I will remain unconvinced of their position until I see a cogent argument that deals with both Our Lord and Aquinas.

    MB

  50. Luke says:

    Geoffrey: Parents should be the primary lawgivers in the life of a child but they need the support of their community as well. I say that if the Parish priest didn’t respond to this young man’s act then the person behind him should have said something to him. Imagine the scene for a moment. Would you just walk on by, on the way back to your pew, if you were behind this young man after he tossed our Lord onto the floor? Or, would you respond in some way? My point is only that a response is required and I will add that when a correction is given that timing is everything. There should be no waiting for the boy to feel justified in what he has done. To act so heinously toward the Blessed Sacrament requires forethought and a deep-seated problem within that young man.

    Isn’t it obvious from this conversation that there are many ways to look at this particular scenario? It is true that our blessed Lord allowed himself to be beaten during his life and that he criticized those who called down thunder or drew their swords for not understanding God’s Kingdom. Any yet the Priest has a duty to defend the Blessed Sacrament and to lead his flock. Because we are human we are limited. How many times would we modify our past actions if given the opportunity. But the great thing is that this Priest acted at all. Or, would it have been better for him to ignore what he saw and neglect that boys doubting action? How easy for us to judge him in hindsight. How easy.

  51. ipadre says:

    I’m not advocating violence, but do you know what would be done to someone in a Muslim nation who desecrated the Koran? They would probably be ripped to shreds. I do not want to see that happen with the Blessed Sacrament, but it is time to stop the nonsense. Maybe this event will cause the Holy See to re-examine the current practice for reception of Holy Communion. Most priests, at least those who are tired of the irreverence have seen sacrilege after sacrilege. If it were somebody’s mother being abused, they would have stopped this a long time ago.

  52. Geoffrey,

    No I cannot, but can you come up with anything that says violence is an acceptable response to an act of sacrilege?

    I can, and I already have. See my first comment in this thread.

    A.

  53. Dave N. says:

    A very bad situation made appreciably worse.

  54. Anita,

    I think you have misunderstood part of what I said. For clarity:

    1) I never suggested the priest analyze the “why” or motive during Mass. Rather, what I was conveying is not to shoot first (slap) and ask questions later, but to ask questions after Mass – privately – to comprehend motivation. Once Our Lord was out of the lad’s mouth the deed was over, so did the slap truly bring it to an end, or was it a punishment for what was done? Is a slap the only way to show disapproval for a sacrilegious act?

    2) A slap upon committing sacrilege is not the only means of ensuring the deed does not happen again.

    3) Much if what you had in 3 I have already addressed. The Church has a penalty for such sacrilege. The penalty takes into account knowledge and intent. Therefore, the main objective is to bring him to repentance. A slap can bring about exterior change in behavior, but may have no bearing on interior change. As I pointed out, it could actually bring on greater contempt for the Eucharist, IF actual contempt is there, or incite it where it did not previously exist (what if it was a coincidental cough?) I still have not seen the age if this boy.

    4) My response to your point 4 is that you clearly did not read my comments. I made it clear that someone with authority to probe his conscience (priest/confessor) simply ask why he did what he did, and to find out if he believes in the Real Presence. If not, then there us a failure in the home and/or the parish that needs to be addressed.

    5) There is more than one way to respond to the public part if the young man’s deed. Yes, it is important to not lead others into scandal by going about business as if nothing happened. Once again, a careful reading of my comments reveals a way for a priest to acknowledge the great offense, in the way he handles the desecrated Host. Those who saw the act, will see the reverent manner in which it is handled. Slapping him publicly pretty much pegged him for the many who did not see what he had done.

    6) Jesus loves that boy more than any of us could. The question I ask is…was a slap the only way to respond and bring this boy home? I think the sword analogy us appropriate. I think the money changers analogy is way over-used.

    Again, this sacrilege needs to be dealt with and the Church has remedies which do not include slapping young people during the Mass. I just don’t think you can force someone to accept and love our Eucharistic Lord with a slap. Compliance may come, but it may only be temporary exterior compliance not interior conversion.

    I’d still like to know how old he is.

  55. Oops!

    Anita, in response to your point 4, I omitted the main part….

    You asked if I thought the whole Mass should be held up while the priest discerns motivation. I more than adequately qualified that originally by stating “after Mass”.

  56. Fr_Sotelo says:

    In the Summa, II-II, q. 64, art. 4, Thomas Aquinas asks if it is lawful for clerics to kill evil doers. He also responds to the issue of whether clergy should strike people. The words of the Angelic Doctor:

    *I answer that, It is unlawful for clerics to kill, for two reasons. First, because they are chosen for the ministry of the altar, whereon is represented the Passion of Christ slain “Who, when He was struck did not strike [Vulgate: 'When He suffered, He threatened not']” (1 Peter 2:23). Therefore it becomes not clerics to strike or kill: for ministers should imitate their master, according to Sirach 10:2, “As the judge of the people is himself, so also are his ministers.” The other reason is because clerics are entrusted with the ministry of the New Law, wherein no punishment of death or of bodily maiming is appointed: wherefore they should abstain from such things in order that they may be fitting ministers of the New Testament.*

    Aquinas speaks of what a priest is “appointed” to do by Christ in the New Law. We have been appointed to judge, as in the confessional. But we are not appointed by Christ, in any part of the Gospels, to corporally punish. I wonder if people realize that even the priests of the Inquisition did not pass sentence of death, but surrendered sinners to the State for that.

    Now laity, that is a different matter. Parents, that is a different matter. God appoints certain laymen and all parents to the role of justice, and dispensing physical punishment. No one is saying that those guilty of sacrilege are not to be punished. I also agree that there is no school like the old school. I am just saying emphatically that we priests should never lay a violent hand upon the faithful, especially the young.

  57. paladin says:

    Geoffrey wrote:

    but can you come up with anything that says violence is an acceptable response to an act of sacrilege?

    In addition to Anita’s quote, I have to admit: Ananias and Sapphira come to mind. Heck, we could even throw in Uzzah, and his sacrilege wasn’t even (obviously) intentional!

    To allow someone to desecrate Our Lord in the Eucharist is not kindness; in fact, it can “teach” the offender that there is no significant reason NOT to desecrate Him. To strike someone as a loving rebuke (even in anger) is a kindness, if it saves him from a far greater evil (i.e. the damnation of his soul).

    “Let a good man strike or rebuke me in kindness, but let the oil of the wicked never anoint my head; for my prayer is continually against their wicked deeds.” (Psalm 141:5, RSV)

  58. My concern here is: why doesn’t God have any rights anymore?; our Lord makes Himself so vulnerable, so accessible, so absolutely “at the mercy” of us…
    I’m not advocating assaulting anyone;
    but I would be sure to tackle anybody doing any kind of sacrilege towards the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament…thank you Fr. Sotelo; I take your words to heart…but my first instinct overrides being “civil”; maybe I need to reflect upon this further. My thanks, dear Father.

  59. Luke says:

    So basically the only time that anger is appropriate is when it is anger for God. Anger should never be expressed for ourselves. But when anger is expressed for God’s sake it is then justified. This is the lesson in Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. Therefore, this Priest acted justly.

  60. The Cure of Ars, gentle soul that he was, fistfought some of his adult male parishioners to teach them better — and that was over a matter of dancing and drinking, not sacrilege and blasphemy.

    And in general, adults do have the right to strike or otherwise physically correct children, particularly if the matter is serious and immediate. If anybody can hit a kid, a pastor who’s trying to save a kid from going to Hell can hit a kid.

    Priests have the right to strike people. Whether they use that or not, is a matter of pastoral necessities and usefulness. Obviously, not a tool to bring out of the box all the time.

    That said, if I saw some kid over the age of reason apparently spit or throw the Eucharist, I would say that Mr. Hand and Mr. Legs would probably be moving before Mr. Brain had any chance to talk to me at all. Seriously, is there anyone who wouldn’t react that fast? Only the most phlegmatic or stanned could possibly manage thought, in such a situation.

  61. PostCatholic says:

    I don’t side with violence of any sort but I also think the act of desecrating something thought holy by a community in their own place at their appointed gathering time is appallingly rude. Though I don’t believe in transubstantiation nor indeed any deities, I would no more ask to receive communion at a Catholic Mass only to dishonor it than I would graffiti the Wailing Wall or spit on the Kaaba. Such an act is a provocation to violence, and while it may not have been right that the violator was struck in retaliation, that response could have been reasonably expected.

  62. Assuming that Mr. Autonomous Nervous System is pious, that is. But Catholicism has a way of training Mr. Autonomous Nervous System.

  63. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Mario Bird, let’s not confuse or derail this discussion with the introduction of terms like “pacifists.” This is not a question of whether we should do nothing in the face of evil and threats. When I was young, my mom and dad smacked me good on various occasions (in Spanish, they called it “una cachetada bien puesta” or a slap to the mouth, with perfect aim). I can see that the other posters, myself included, have no problem with evil doers being punished by the law or their parents. This is, rather, a discussion of whether priests should slap young people, as this priest did in Spain.

    First, even the priest in Spain is admitting he may have been rash, because it appears the young man spit up the Host because of a stomach problem, *not because of sacrilege.* This is an easy mistake to make when you slap first and ask questions later.

    Now, as to whether Jesus whipping people in the Temple meant by this action to “commission” priests to start whipping and slapping as well, you must make a distinction. This distinction is between the office of Jesus as High Priest and my office as priest with a small “p.” As High Priest, He may ordain. So, does that mean automatically that I may ordain? No. As High Priest, He can correct the apostles. Does that mean that I can correct my bishop? No. As High Priest, He has authority not only to judge, but to corporally punish. Does that mean I should now start to corporally punish, even those who desecrate? I would say *no.*

    There are times when Our Lord instructs priests to imitate Him. He washed feet, and then said we are to do the same. He offered Mass, and then appointed us priests to also offer Mass. He loved us as the Father has loved Him, and then said to do the same, “love one another as I have loved you.”

    *However, he did not turn to the apostles in the Temple, give them the whip, and say, “As I have just done, so shall you now go out and do to sinners.”*

    This discussion is moot because the law of the Church, the Charter for the Protection of Young People, explicitly forbids clerics from striking the youth. But even if this were allowed, priests should abhor such a thing.

    What I am very surprised at is how everyone is cheering this action by the priest and asserting that it would be appropriate to slap the youth even for other offenses. That son or daughter, for you who are parents, is the fruit of your love. Even when sinful and disobedient, do you so easily accept the thought of another adult slapping your child? I am not sure how I would feel if I was your son or daughter and I read your comments here knowing that you are my mom or dad.

  64. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Suburbanbanshee:

    I have not heard of the Cure’s boxing career. Could you cite a source for me? But while we speak of St. John Vianney, let us also remember that he considered the apparition of LaSallete to be a farce and fraud. Let us also remember in the biography by the Abbe Trochu that the Cure regretted some of his actions from his youth as having been imprudent.

    A priest can be a saint, but that does not mean that every action of his is to be imitated. On a retreat with priests, someone told the story that St. Pius X got angry at the cardinals at a meeting and cussed them out like a sailor. He did not cite a source, but even if it was true, I don’t thing it is a moment from his life that he would want me to imitate as a priest.

  65. I feel what Fr. Soleto shares from Aquinas expresses my concern. I don’t have a problem with corporal punishment in certain circumstances, by certain figures, and within reasonable limits. I just have a problem with a priest administering corporal punishment, most especially during Mass. This is not the same as saying the Eucharist shouldn’t be defended. All of this disrespect is a manifestation of a much deeper problem among many Catholics, in many homes today.

  66. Fr. Soleto has expressed again the points that I could not adequately express.

    I’m tired of the “Christ and the money changers in the temple” argument to justify all kinds of anger.

    With regards to “righteous anger”, St Alphonsus has something to offer:

    Still, as we all know, there are times when it seems absolutely necessary to answer insolence with severity. Occasions do occur when we may resort to righteous anger. But this we must remember: It may sometimes be expedient – speculatively speaking – to answer someone severely; but in practice it is very difficult to do so without some fault on our part.”

  67. Fr. Sotelo,

    Sorry for mispelling your name in my last two comments.

  68. Fr. Sotelo: Please know I am not “cheering on” this reaction of a priest regarding a young person.
    I’m merely expressing my instinctive outrage at any kind of sacrilege.
    I’m probably being over-emotional; we spend hours before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in our community…I cannot imagine this kind of instance.
    Pastoral care and love is indispensable; no doubt about it.
    I’m just expressing my shock and outrage at something that is incomprehensible to me, as a priest, as a religious, as one who adores our Lord for so many hours.
    Something has to be done to remedy this kind of event; my prayers and salutations.

  69. paladin says:

    Fr. Sotelo wrote:

    First, even the priest in Spain is admitting he may have been rash, because it appears the young man spit up the Host because of a stomach problem, not because of sacrilege. This is an easy mistake to make when you slap first and ask questions later.

    All right; if the boy is truly innocent of wrongdoing, then certainly: the slap was unjustified (though the culpability of the priest is a separate matter). But you’ve gone farther, here, and said that such a slap is *never* allowable… and I think you’ll find it difficult to argue that successfully.

    Now, as to whether Jesus whipping people in the Temple meant by this action to “commission” priests to start whipping and slapping as well, you must make a distinction.

    I don’t think that’s what the other commenters meant, Father. Their example (of Jesus in the temple) certainly seems to be an illustration of how physical force–perhaps even construed as “physical violence”–is not intrinsically evil, even in situations where physical life and/or limb are not threatened. Jesus did not resort to physical force because someone was at risk of being murdered; He was defending the honour of God and His House. Again, I don’t think the other commenters were exclusively relying on a mindset of “Jesus did it, so I can do it!”

    This distinction is between the office of Jesus as High Priest and my office as priest with a small “p.” As High Priest, He may ordain. So, does that mean automatically that I may ordain? No. As High Priest, He can correct the apostles. Does that mean that I can correct my bishop? No.

    Well… I really don’t think these analogies hold. The Pope is not “High Priest”, either, but he can certainly ordain, and he can certainly correct other bishops, can he not? I doubt that you’re trying to attribute “High Priesthood” with an uppercase “P” to the Holy Father; right? It’s beyond question (unless the story has glaring errors or omissions) that the boy in this account was under the priest’s rightful authority, as well; don’t you find that significant? Case in point: you lack the rightful authority to ordain (due to your status as non-bishop) and the rightful authority to correct your ordinary (due to the fact that he is not under your rightful authority) because it is not your rightful authority to do these things.

    As High Priest, He has authority not only to judge, but to corporally punish.

    Father, with all due respect: this is so vague and unfocused as to be rather odd! You didn’t say so explicitly, but your (rather strange, though true) statement about Christ’s authority to “punish corporally” seems to suggest that no one else has that right… which runs counter to your admission that parents *do* have that right (while failing to be “High Priests”).

    Does that mean I should now start to corporally punish, even those who desecrate? I would say no.

    You seem to be assuming that any right to punish corporally must come directly from your status as “alter Christus”–and I really don’t know where you’d come up with an idea like that. Civil governments can licitly issue corporal punishment (think of “caning” in Singapore), but their right to do so comes from the right–and duty–to protect the common good. The priest in question not only had the *duty* to protect Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but he had a solemn duty (using his best lights) to stop one of his flock from committing sacrilege–from doing the spiritual equivalent of slitting his own throat with a knife! Surely you see the gravity of the situation, given how it looked? (And I think I’m safe in assuming that the priest didn’t *enjoy* taking such action?)

    There are times when Our Lord instructs priests to imitate Him. He washed feet, and then said we are to do the same. He offered Mass, and then appointed us priests to also offer Mass. He loved us as the Father has loved Him, and then said to do the same, “love one another as I have loved you.”

    Yes… but, with all due respect, Father: love is not sentimental. It’s a choice: to sacrifice of oneself for the best good of another (which is, ultimately, Heaven). Love does not always translate into “being nice” or “being pleasant”. Your point about not imitating every specific action Our Lord did is well taken; but again, I offer you the idea that the slap (assuming it was truly in response to a sacrilege) need not be done “because Jesus once did [x]“; it can be done in defense of Our Lord, and out of love for the soul in danger of Hell.

    However, he did not turn to the apostles in the Temple, give them the whip, and say, “As I have just done, so shall you now go out and do to sinners.”

    Of course not. But if your analogy holds, then all corporal punishment–whether by priests, parents, or civil authorities–is morally illicit. Or are you suggesting that we laity need not worry our heads about “love one another as I have loved you”?

    This discussion is moot because the law of the Church, the Charter for the Protection of Young People, explicitly forbids clerics from striking the youth.

    (??) Two questions:

    1) The “Charter” you mention is, as far as I know, only binding (and I’m not even sure about that–you’d have to ask a canon lawyer about the legal binding force of the document) in the United States–not worldwide. Do you know of any universal Church law to that effect?

    2) I’ve searched the text of the USCCB Charter, and I see no reference to striking, one way or the other. Can you supply a quote?

    But even if this were allowed, priests should abhor such a thing.

    Well… that’s a licit view, Father… but it’s your personal opinion, and I don’t think you’re in a position to say that it’s mandatory for all priests, everywhere.

  70. albizzi says:

    Imagine that you are facing a robber attempting to break the tabernacle’s door to take the Eucharist and desecrate it.
    How many among us would fight the man with the strongest energy and even hit him with the possible risk to put our live in jeopardy if necessary to prevent this?
    How many?
    And instead of the Eucharist, a big amount of money in a chest: How many?

  71. albizzi: Exactly.
    The absolute humility, vulnerability, and accessibility of our Lord Jesus Christ, present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity…if you will, “priceless”…as opposed to any amount of money…
    Where are we? What does this mean??

  72. cmm says:

    It seems clear that the priest reacted instinctively, not because he had thought it through and decided it was the right course of action. In fact it seems that he might have been mistaken (the culprit who threw the Host on the floor may have been another kid.) The priest reacted in anger and I am sure that he is regretting it mightily now. If he had not slapped the kid but simply escorted him out (or something equivalent), he would now be in a position of strength. Instead he finds that he has to justify himself and go into all those discussion of appropriateness, or not, of corporeal punishment.

    Not a good example.

  73. Mario Bird says:

    Hi Fr. Sotelo,

    Thank you for your measured and thoughtful response. I would like to first address your citation of Aquinas, and then your direct response to me in your later post.

    1. I think your gloss of Aquinas is inaccurate, as the rest of Q 64 deals with murder. In your quotation of art 4, Aquinas is explicitly dealing with whether a cleric should kill or maim — not administer corporal punishment. I concede that he uses the term “strike,” but he does so in the larger context of murder, viz. articles 1-3 and 5-8. Therefore, if you are speaking of Aquinas’ use of the term “strike” as synonymous with corporal punishment such as slapping, please state your grounds for doing so. Further, would you be so kind then to address the author’s contention regarding the corporal punishment administered by the Franciscan Dean in the article above, and state why you think that that cleric was in the wrong?

    2. I am sorry that you do not like the term pacifist. I mean only to classify the current and former generations of parents that dogmatically eschew corporal punishment in any form. For the fruit of their handiwork, I refer you to the current state of masculinity in the United States.

    Your point about the rashness of the priest is well-taken, if it is indeed, as you say, a mistake as to the intention of the young man. I find it personally hard to imagine that an upset stomach could be so easily mistaken for blasphemy, but I will respectfully concede the point.

    I had never heard of the Charter for the Protection of Young People, nor that it was Church Law, before you mentioned it. Upon further review, I see that it is “a comprehensive set of procedures established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.” A USCCB document is not Church Law, nor do I see how it is germane to our discussion of corporal punishment.

    Finally, I submit that some parents not only would approve of such an action by a priest, but, especially given our current society, desire a priest to make a correction in the appropriate spiritual realm. Again, this is the author’s point: the slap administered by the Franciscan Dean had real efficacy because it was unexpected and, according to the author, justly meted out by a cleric.

    In conclusion, I thank you for your service to the Church and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which you offer daily. While I do not agree with you on this particular point, I think that reasonable men can differ here, and I thank you for taking the time to address the argument.

    In Christ through Mary,

    MB

  74. Fr_Sotelo says:

    paladin: If you read through the section of the Summa of St. Thomas which I quoted, I don’t think you will find my “licit” view to be a matter of personal opinion. The Angelic Doctor is quite clear that priests should not physically strike people, and quotes Scripture about Our Lord being struck in His passion, and not striking back. As well, if you consult the writings of the great priest saints, you will scarcely find therein the recommendation to use slapping or striking as an acceptable method of dealing with erring faithful.

    If you then turn to papal encyclicals and conciliar decrees about the sacred ministry, you will find countless references to sinners and their crimes, but will never find a recommendation by the supreme authority of the Church for clerics to use physical force to punish their subjects. We priests rely on the Church’s recommendations, not our guesses, in order to formulate positively the priestly methods of action for responding to the evil of sin. I would not assume that the Church merely “overlooked” this method when speaking to priests of their ministry. The absence of a recommendation to strike people, I believe, is Mother Church’s way of not bringing up what should be so simple and obvious to the cleric.

    From the first days in the seminary, we are taught never to strike people. In fact, we are told in the seminary that striking a fellow seminarian is justification for dismissal. In our clergy conferences, the bishops present the Charter as a particular law for dealing with sexual abuse of minors. But we are also told clearly that the references to “safe environment” prohibit any physical action against children and the youth. Furthermore, we are told that the admonition that the civil laws are to be followed in regard to sexual abuse signal for us clerics that *all civil laws* are to be obeyed in regard to mistreatment of children.

    The Charter states that in dealing with priests, bishops and superiors are to share all knowledge, “concerning any act of sexual abuse of a minor and *any other information indicating that he has been or may be a danger to children or young people* so that the bishop/eparch can make an informed judgment that suitable safeguards are in place for the protection of children or young people.” If we strike children or youth, the bishops tell us, this will be regarded as a violation of the civil laws regarding assault. From this, a bishop can extrapolate reasonably that a priest should not be around young people and remove them from ministry around young people. Thus, the Charter does not deal explicitly with slapping kids, but this is the practical way that the Charter would be applied to slapping kids in the U.S.

  75. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Mario:

    I don’t want to parse the Angelic Doctor to the point that we split hairs. Yes, he is speaking of the crime of murder and whether priests should or should not kill murderers. But as he often does in the Summa, a particular question gives him opportunity to touch on related subjects. The quote from Scripture, based on the Messiah who is led like a lamb to the slaughter, gives Aquinas the chance to say to priests in general that we must be peaceful and gentle, unlike the priests or prophets of the Old Testament, who did execute people. The argument, then, which he employs, is basically that the the modus operandi of Jesus when violence was used against Him was to not strike back. Thus, for St. Thomas, this should be the modus operandi of priests of the New Law. We could further argue about what does “strike” mean, but that to me is going down the path of saying the Angelic Doctor wants priests to avoid greater degrees of violence but allow for lesser degrees of violence.

    As for whether Fr. Z should have been hit by the Franciscan, [?!?] I will simply state that I do not agree with that method, although it was very popular at one time. In fact, there are adults out there as well who have been popped in the mouth by a priest–as adults! If you poll most priests, in fact, if they going to slap faces, they would much prefer, not the teens, but slapping their parents, who by and large are far more disrespectful to the clergy than teens ever are.

    As for the USCCB document or Charter, it has received from the Pope a “recognitio” which means it now carries the force of particular church law for the U.S. It could be invoked to punish a priest who strikes a young person, and thus it is quite germane to this discussion.

    To clarify myself on other comments, I am not saying that the men should not get up and defend the Blessed Sacrament. By all means, you layman should be the ones to jump to your feet and defend Godly things from sacrilege. If you were doing that, we priests would never have to broach the question of what to do when there is sacrilege. We would rather our parishioners do their job and leave us to sacraments and teaching.

  76. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Diane:
    *Sorry for mispelling your name*—no problema, I’ve been called worse things. LOL. :)

    brother Nazareth priest: I hear you. I have never hesitated to take the Host away from people who looked like they were out of it and not consuming Our Lord reverently. But I have to work extra hard to be gentle. I’ve been told that when I’m angry I scare the parishioners. That is not a good thing. You know as a priest that when the faithful approach you, you want them to know they are with their shepherd who cares about getting them to heaven. This slapping thing would not be helpful for me one bit.

  77. Ef-lover says:

    if that happened in this country the police would have been called and the good father would have been arrested

  78. I was just perusing spanish language news using a google translator.

    There are so many variations of this story from the boy choking/having stomach problems to the boy breaking the Host up in front of the priest and stomping on it.

    Most reports say the priest slapped the boy. Other reports are saying that he slapped the boy after he crumbled the Host and threw it to the ground, the boy hit the priest back, then it ended after the priest kicked the kid in the backside.

    The secular reports are pretty bad.

    Here is one report (with photo), via google translate, which seems to have more believable detail.

    Be careful with this google translate version though. Where it says the Archdiocese will make an apology, it could mean an act of reparation. Can someone confirm?

    Anyone know enough spanish to translate parts of it better than what is shown in the translator?

    It will be interesting to see if the Archdiocese of Valencia will speak on the matter. As of a few minutes ago, there is nothing.

  79. catholicmidwest says:

    He should have been escorted out of the church immediately, forcibly if need be. And then he should be forbidden to enter church property until he writes an apology to the priest and the congregation. Legal steps should be taken if necessary to enforce this.

  80. This letter will be addressed to the general public, as I believe that I already know what the estimable Fr. Z. has to say on the matter.

    Let me see if I understand what’s going on here.

    Are we are talking about the Divine Liturgy here, which the Council Fathers consider the ‘summit of human existance’?

    Are we talking here about the Divine Eucharist? The Mystery and Sacrament that the angels do not dare to gaze upon? The Presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Divine and Life Giving Trinity, which is veiled in these figures of bread and wine? The Divine Medicine of our Immortality, given as a means of returning into the Kingdom of Heaven?

    And are we talking about some fool of a child who desecrates that Divine Liturgy, that union of Earth and Heaven? Some one who wishes to continue the work of those who tormented our Lord and Savior upon the Cross, and to recommit the crime of Golgotha?

    And you discuss among yourselves whether you should slap or upbraid this idiot?

    If we were talking of a fitting punishment for this crime, and if we actually believed the above, burning at the stake might be a bit more appropriate. Or perhaps hanging, drawing, and quartering.

    I have come to the conclusion that many of you RCs really don’t believe in the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, or the Resurrection. Or if you do, it would be nearer to what the Blessed John Henry Newman would call a ‘notional’ rather than a ‘real’ assent.

    If you DID have a real belief in these saving truths, you would act more like the priest in Valencia, or the Dean of Students in the Franciscan high school mentioned above. At the very least, you would insist on receiving, and on your priests giving, the Eucharist directly from hand to mouth, preferably intincted, so that the Sacred Body and Blood are both present and safe from sacrilege, as we still do things in the East.

    For those who have responded against this blasphemy in the comments above, my apologies if I give any impression that I count you among the number of the Laodiceans. I only sorrow that you still have to deal with them in your churches and your parish councils, or among your clergy.

    And thank you, Fr. Z, for providing us with this Forum.

  81. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m not sure, Diane, that it makes much difference to most of the congregation why the boy did it. They should not have had to witness his ridiculous and sacrilegious spasm and there’s no point in analyzing that to death.

    If he’s nuts or demented or possessed or something, then that needs to be dealt with elsewhere, but he should not be on church property until he is addressed properly.

    He should have been summarily hauled out of the church, bodily if necessary, with proportional force if necessary, and then detained for the cops. Period. If his parents want to attend to his mental health, then that would come next. And he should be OFF church property until amends are made and the problems are fixed. Period.

  82. catholicmidwest says:

    albizzi,

    Now, where did I put that Louisville Slugger of mine?

    http://www.slugger.com/baseball/wood/index.html

  83. catholicmidwest says:

    Just kidding, but not by much.

  84. @catholicmidwest,

    I didn’t suggest they analyze it to death. I suggested that the question, “why” be asked. I can understand the frustration of the priest.

    There is some doubt as to whether the boy who actually committed the offense, was the one slapped. In this article by “InfoCatolica” (at least a Catholic source, not secular), it sounds like the incident took place after Mass. It’s hard to say reading through a translator.

    It seems that lay people brought the problem to the attention of the priest and when the priest approached the 21 year old and asked (this is a man, not a boy!), he smirked or something. That’s when the priest belted him (and if it went down that way, I can understand why the priest reacted the way he did as that could set a saint off). I initially got the impression that the young man spit out the Eucharist in front of the priest and the priest witnessed it. I’m not getting that impression from the InfoCatholica report. If someone knows Spanish perhaps we can get some clarification.

    There is a difference between defending the Eucharist, and administering consequences for the descration of the Eucharist. St. Tarcisius gave up his life defending the Eucharist. This seems to be more of a response to something that was alread done and over with.

    I can’t seem to find what happened with the desecrated Host.

    I still think the diocese will respond with a statement, especially when they realize it is getting global coverage.

  85. disney1957 says:

    I’m horrified at how many apparently “Godly people” encourage physical violence. I NEVER read in the Bible Jesus resorting to that! In fact, he chastises one of the disciples for cutting off the ear of a soldier in the garden! The end result does NOT justify the means – if that were true there would be all kinds of excuses for poor behavior. Frankly I’m shocked and disappointed in some of you, especially your priests that should be representing God to others. Is it a serious offense? Obviously, so is murder, but as Catholics we do NOT ever support the taking of another’s sacred life!

  86. Fr. Sotelo: You are most correct; I am just being honest about my initial “reaction”…I am, believe it or not, a most gentle priest;
    given the circumstances,I would be horrified, outraged, and probably prone to act in a somewhat reactionary way…but I would probably not “slap” anyone; not tackle them; but I would be very firm about insisting that the individual be corrected or reprimanded, probably later.

  87. And as an afterthought: the way we, as priests, are to treat the Most Holy Sacrament, with such care and reverence, has made me very aware that Communion on the tongue is the best way to administer the Holy Sacrament.
    To be aware of the fragments left on the corporal and paten, that are treated in the most “casual” and “inconsequential” way by some priests, the flipping of the corporal by servers or others, the lack of appreciation of the Presence of the Lord in the fragments just makes me shudder; I’m not being scrupulous. We just need to treat our Lord with the greatest respect and reverence in His Most Blessed Sacrament.

  88. @nazareth priest,

    I would be disappointed in any priest who would not be “very firm about insisting that the individual be corrected or reprimanded”. Seeing that “invitation” to a private discussion, “probably later” would also satisfy the need for others to know that Father is not simply brushing aside such a serious matter which happened in public. Ideally, that is how a father disciplines a son: out of the public view (while people generally want to witness the imposition of consequences, they do not have a right to witness it. And, with our human fallen nature, it is easy to cross from a desire for justice to a desire to angry vengeance).

    I think for any priest who experiences a desecration in his parish, what is also important is how the cleanup is handled. I had never witnessed the proper care for a dropped Host in all my prior parishes until I saw it at Assumption Grotto after arriving in 2005. One Host fell out of someone’s mouth and off the paten (a young altar boy was holding it at an angle instead of straight). We use the rail, and kneel as opposed to going up in a line. I watched my pastor stop distributing Communion, he went up and got some things to purify the area (marble floor). It was the time and care that he took which deeply affected me. I began to question my own reverence as I observed him carefully cleaning.

    Those actions can go a long way into teaching those present about the seriousness of such things, especially if the cleanup is the result of a desecration. And, for all other priests still reading, the time and care you take purifying the vessels is also a teaching moment with regards to the Real Presence. Seeing Father carefully scraping small particles, delicately with a finger into the chalice says a lot.

    That parish should schedule an act of reparation if this was truly a purposeful desecration. That is how the people ought to participate, and to pray for this young man’s soul.

    Despite my disagreement with a priest slapping someone for sacrilege, I find it endearing that priests care enough to react in any way, even if imperfect and in need of some tempering.

  89. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Diane:

    I went to the link you posted and read everything in the original Spanish. This is what happened. Last Saturday, Fr. Victor Jimeno, pastor of the town of Rotova, Spain, offered Mass for the patronal feast of the town. Some young people came to Mass, one of whom had no idea what was going on. When this guy’s buddies got up to go to Communion, he went up also. Not realizing what the Host was, he took it out of his mouth and tossed it on the ground.

    The parishioners witnessed this. The article doesn’t say it, but it would be customer in Spain for the faithful to retrieve the Host and consume Him on the spot. They waited for Mass to end and reported to Fr. Jimeno what happened. Then they showed the priest where the young guys were sitting and who it was they believed to have tossed the Host.

    Fr. Jimeno yelled at the kid that he was a blasphemer and slapped him. It is reported that the wrong young man was slapped; feeling indignant since he hadn’t done anything, he punched the priest for slapping him. Then the priest kicked him in the hind quarters and tossed him out of church, by which time all the parishioners had filed out as well.

    On Monday, the parents of the young man who had actually tossed the Host, but was not slapped, met with the pastor, the mayor, and everyone made their peace with each other and agreed to put the incident behind them. They do not want to publicize the name of the young person who was actually guilty of causing this problem.

    Fr. Jimeno, meanwhile, after contacting the Archdiocese of Valencia, conducted or will soon conduct a special service of reparation for the sacrilege which was committed.

  90. Thanks so much Fr. Sotelo. That story from InfoCatolica sounds the like the real deal. Sadly, I have seen articles in English, some from atheist sources saying the priest punched the kid, which didn’t happen.

    The act of reparation is good for the desecration. Hopefully, some graces will come for the young man who did the deed.

  91. catholicmidwest says:

    Disney 1957,
    He didn’t kill him, he clouted him. Relax.

  92. catholicmidwest says:

    This is one more reason to announce at the start of mass that only Catholics in union with Rome should get in the Holy Communion line. It’s very common for non-Catholics to come to our churches and hop in line because they think they can. They have no idea how to receive when they get to the front of the line, and they have no idea what they are claiming union with. It’s a case of complete negligence on our part.

    Hosts can be found occasionally in hymnals because non-Catholics don’t really know what to do with them. God only knows how many walk out the door in pockets and so on. We need to be FAR more careful.

  93. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Z, I am chuckling as I realized it was Pat Archibold, the author of the article, not you, who was slapped by a Franciscan Dean. I knew something was not right because I couldn’t picture you ever causing such disruptions in class.

  94. Fr. A.M. says:

    xgenerationcatholic — 7 September 2010 @ 11:46 am : Fr. AM – ‘Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that St. John Bosco punched a boy while he was bilocating for speaking in way that did not befit his boys. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere on his radar screen if I was going to do something like desecrate the Eucharist.’

    Note what I said : ‘GENERALLY speaking’ (have a look at the second reading for St. John Bosco’s feast day). If it was me, I would not have used physical force against the boy, UNLESS it could have PREVENTED a sacrilege. To be completely hones, I would have had to restrain myself from hitting him afterwards – and being ‘explosively’ angry – but I would have used some harsh words, and perhaps take some harsh actions. But I would also IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES want to do my best to try and help that boy appreciate the Blessed Sacrament and his Catholic Faith in the proper way – perhaps I would have ‘invited’ him to confession.

  95. Fr. A.M. Says: “….perhaps I would have ‘invited’ him to confession.”

    It gives new meaning to the “penalty box” – LOL

    All kidding aside, yeah… This is what I’m talking about!

  96. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t desecration of the Eucharist something you have to get forgiven by the Pope for? I remember reading it in a book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, who had a man from Act Up desecrate the Eucharist that Fr. Groeschel had just given him. (the man got a few hours of community service and was told by the judge he was like Ghandi.)

  97. Fr. Sotelo: I received all sorts of email, some seeking to console me for the horrible experience I had (not perhaps knowing or remembering that I am a convert, in my early twenties at that) and some remonstrating with me in the most absurd ways condemning my lax attitude given the nightmare I had personally experienced.

    Sometimes people don’t pay attention!

    Bruisédly yours,

    o{]*:¬/

  98. On second thought, I DO need some consolation because this horrible experience.

    Everyone… quickly! 

    Click on the image below and buy some Mystic Monk Coffee!


    Don’t let your coffee supply run down!

  99. Supertradmum says:

    St. Nicholas slapped Arius at the great Council of Nicea. Public acts demand public punishments. The above translation of the event indicates that the sacrilege will never occur again and that everyone involved is fine.

    Today, half of my class came in without their homework and five out of twenty-five came in late without good excuses. Something is to be said of the “good old days”.

    Father Z, I admit I agree with the punishment you received. It may have saved your soul in the long run.

  100. Oh boy… Supratradmum, read the last few posts above yours. Fr. Z was not the subject, it was Pat Archbold who penned it the article quoted by Fr. Z

  101. Elle says:

    Good the priest smacked that kid. Remember why he did it?
    Like remember who the kid did it to…Jesus…the One at whose name every knee shall bend, every head shall bow.
    All the weasels who think the priest was wrong, REMEMBER…

  102. Elle says:

    Just remembered Padre Pio slapped not a few sinners in the face.
    How many souls did he save…I wonder?
    BTW he is still working among us.

  103. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z, sorry-not your punishment–but author Pat’s-same sentiment, however.

    Didn’t Louis de Montfort once leave the pulpit and go next door to a pub and beat up loud and cursing men, who were Catholic and should have been at Mass? And, did they not come into the Church for the rest of the Mass?

  104. Supertradmum says:

    Diane,
    Thanks for pointing out my error. In a slight defense, I do not always see the light blue/white distinction above, but should have read more carefully. As to “posts” above me, those were not there when I posted, as there is always a delay in my computer or whatever and many posts appear above me after I post. I have never understood the delay, even if it is ten minutes by the posting times. Maybe someone can explain this. It could be because I type, get interrupted, do something else, like wipe up spilled ice-cream or feed the starving cat, and then push the submit button. When the blog re-appears, magically, there are more comments before the one which was the last on my screen!

    I shall try and read more carefully in order to help spare Father Z’s reputation.

  105. paladin says:

    xgenerationcatholic wrote:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that St. John Bosco punched a boy while he was bilocating for speaking in way that did not befit his boys.

    :) You took the example out of my mouth! The quote is from “The Blessed Friend of Youth”, by Fr. Neil Boynton, S.J.; pp.180-182 (2nd revision, paperback). It seems strange that God would grant supernatural approbation to corporal punishment (i.e. empower Don Bosco to dispense corporal punishment via a miracle), if it were intrinsically evil (or morally perilous) for priests to use it.

    I wouldn’t want to be anywhere on his radar screen if I was going to do something like desecrate the Eucharist.

    :) Right. That’s a key point, too: very few people would be shocked if a mother or father were to slap their child for calling them a foul and disrespectful name to their face (many parts of the politically correct and lawsuit-happy United States are something of another matter); but when a boy has apparently done something which has (by all appearances) excommunicated himself from the Church (reserved to the Holy See) without any sign of repentance, I can’t fathom why some would react with such horror to the *slap*, while passing over the desecration largely in silence (or with excuses, such as: “The Lord can take care of Himself!”, etc.). Honestly: if the priest had cut off the boy’s hand with a machete, I would understand the reaction; but a *slap*?

    Fr. Sotelo,

    Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not in favour of calling for a “night of the long knives” (or “night of the hard slaps?”) against any and every offender, no matter what the gravity of the offense or the circumstances. I also appreciate your laudable concern for the dignity of the priesthood, and your desire to protect the spiritual integrity of the priesthood. I also have no intention of recommending “slapping” as any sort of routine form of discipline (e.g. “do this, and get slapped 3 times; do this, and get slapped once, etc.”). My sole concern here is that you have denounced the actions of Fr. Jimeno as being wrong–not only because of the possible innocence of the youth (though the story is tangled–I don’t envy the people on-site their task of getting to the bottom of the matter!), but because you think no priest should ever slap anyone, anywhere, for any reason. I offer the possibility that you are mistaken on that specific point.

    As briefly as I can:

    1) As Mario already mentioned: the section from the Summa is dealing specifically with death-dealing and maiming at the hands of a priest. It’s true that St. Thomas didn’t always limit himself to laser-focus on one issue; but even if he *did* mean the prohibition to be broader, that still wouldn’t prove your particular interpretation (i.e. that it is always wrong for priests to dispense corporal punishment, no matter how much care and discretion are used). It would be far more compelling of a case if Church Law, per se, forbade priests to use corporal punishment; but it does not.

    2) It’s one thing to refrain from retaliating against an attack on YOU; it’s quite another thing to refrain thusly at an attack against someone *else*. For example: I have every right to eschew physical violence when someone is attacking ME; but if I allowed my wife to be raped and murdered without trying to intervene, I would be guilty of a very grievous sin. It’s not unreasonable that Our Lord should be offered the same solicitude.

    3) Moreover, the slap was not meant to harm; it was meant as a “medicinal remedy”–to shock the offender into realizing the severity of the situation. If a priest strikes while INTENDING to cause harm, then that’s sinful (as it would be with anyone else); but if it’s a reasonable and proportional remedial lesson in the interest of the offender’s soul, then I really don’t see how it could be forbidden.

    4) There’s a large difference between striking someone justly for a specific reason, and formally recommending it as some sort of protocol. St. Pio of Pietrelcina, for example, struck numerous penitents in this “medicinal” way; here’s one example with a reference:

    http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/padre_pio.php (see ref. xlv)

    5) Ironically enough, the rule of St. Benedict–which has papal approbation–mandates corporal punishment for errant brothers who transgress obstinately (beyond a certain point):

    http://www.commstanth.org/regbeneconstdeclarations.pdf (see p.38)

    Do you think the Church errs in allowing that, even to this day? Or do you imagine that the corporal punishment is administered by the non-ordained brothers, who are then forced to strike a priest?

    6) As is obvious even in this thread alone, priests do not unanimously support your particular view; are you saying that the priests who disagree with you are wrong? (I don’t see how you and they could be right, simultaneously.)

    You wrote:

    If you then turn to papal encyclicals and conciliar decrees about the sacred ministry, you will find countless references to sinners and their crimes, but will never find a recommendation by the supreme authority of the Church for clerics to use physical force to punish their subjects.

    This is an argument from silence, Father, and it’s fallacious. I seriously doubt that you’ll find any recommendations in any official documents for loud demands that the offender stop, or expelling offenders from the premises, either; but I think that’s much more a symptom of the Church not micromanaging the consequences which are to be chosen by the pastor/authority in question. The vast majority of such documents use very broad language, such as “punish with a just penalty”, etc., and leave the details up to the local authority, as subsidiarity requires.

    From the first days in the seminary, we are taught never to strike people.

    In today’s litigious society, that’s only prudent.

    In fact, we are told in the seminary that striking a fellow seminarian is justification for dismissal.

    Right… since the fellow seminarian is not under your rightful authority.

    In our clergy conferences, the bishops present the Charter as a particular law for dealing with sexual abuse of minors. But we are also told clearly that the references to “safe environment” prohibit any physical action against children and the youth.

    Individual bishops have every right to say that, and to mandate it in their particular dioceses; but again, the priest in question is in Spain; you can hardly charge him with violating a Charter (which may not even have binding legal force) which binds (?) the dioceses of the United States, can you?

    Furthermore, we are told that the admonition that the civil laws are to be followed in regard to sexual abuse signal for us clerics that all civil laws are to be obeyed in regard to mistreatment of children.

    That opens a can of worms, I think. Is a priest obliged to report an instance of a child being spanked? Or are buttocks sacrosanct, while a face-slap is intolerable? I don’t think a clear-cut case can be made, simply on what you’ve presented here.

    The Charter states that in dealing with priests, bishops and superiors are to share all knowledge, “concerning any act of sexual abuse of a minor and any other information indicating that he has been or may be a danger to children or young people so that the bishop/eparch can make an informed judgment that suitable safeguards are in place for the protection of children or young people.”

    All right. But it would be necessary to judge slapping as presenting “a danger to children or young people”–which is wide open to debate–in order to go along that line of argument… and you haven’t established that, yet, simply on the basis of a slap (which was not unprovoked).

    If we strike children or youth, the bishops tell us, this will be regarded as a violation of the civil laws regarding assault.

    I still don’t see a quote to that effect, even in the document. Are these quotes from the bishops from other sources, or from the Charter itself?

    Thus, the Charter does not deal explicitly with slapping kids, but this is the practical way that the Charter would be applied to slapping kids in the U.S.

    Again: your original argument was not USA-dependent, but based upon moral principles (including the writings of St. Thomas), and Fr. Jimeno is not a USA citizen, anyway; I assert that, while you have every right to your opinion re: Fr. Jimeno’s actions, you’re not in a position to condemn him on any objective moral grounds. Also, the Charter is rather vague on the points you mention, and the Charter doesn’t–forgive the wording–say what you say it says. I readily grant that, in the lawsuit-happy United States, it would be prudent for priests to abstain from corporal punishment… but that’s a function of pragmatism–of the sad state of the USA–not a function of the moral liceity of corporal punishment by priests.

  106. Fr_Sotelo says:

    paladin: My knowledge of how the Charter is being interpreted comes from the clergy conferences reported to me by various priest friends. This is not stuff which is published, but which is communicated to clergy when they are convened by the Bishop to discuss these matters.

    Even if the Charter does not explicitly forbid slapping minors, I can assure you that no priest in the United States who wishes to continue in ministry is going to slap a minor.

    However, besides the legal issues, you are under a mistaken impression that I am attempting to enunciate a universal principle of moral theology. I never set out to do that, so there is no need to refute my premises as if we are dealing with the terms of a syllogism.

    St. Thomas said that as we depart from the truths of universals and move toward their application, we move also towards a lesser degree of certainty. In short, doctrine is taught by the Church with moral certitude, while practical application and pastoral method is taught with far lesser certitude. What was effective for Don Bosco 100 years ago or for Padre Pio 50 years ago may not be the most spiritually edifying course of action in the here and now.

    But that does not mean that I can’t have a moral conviction on what is unpriestly conduct. In a certain context, under certain conditions, I could be wrong and a brother priest who slaps minors could be right. That is what is tricky with a pastoral situation–there can be different responses for different cases because while universals stay the same they don’t always fit neatly and apply snugly to every situation. One size does not fit all.

    I also understand clearly that this is an incident which took place in Spain. But in the United States, our public is completely intolerant of the clergy striking minors. And there are consequences of great harm to be had for the Church and her outreach. A priest who strikes minors, at the end of Mass without knowing exactly who spit out a Host, is going to jail. He is going to create a harmful media frenzy against the Church, as if we need more. He is going to be depriving the faithful of his sacraments, and to impose upon the faithful costly expenses for the lawyers who must handle the lawsuit, during a time when the faithful do not have money to toss around. We are at a point in the U.S. where we simply must find another method to deal with sinful and erring people, no ifs, ands, or buts.

    If the Spanish clergy still find that slapping minors is pastorally effective and accepted by the Spanish people, then perhaps you may wish to build a case for this priest being a model for other clergy to follow. If you wish to be his apologist, be my guest. I choose to disagree.

    My sense, however, is that Spain is not far behind the U.S. If the clergy and faithful there still find striking minors to be morally and spiritually laudable for certain cases of sin, notwithstanding legal issues, I propose that very soon their mind may have to change as their context changes to an intolerance similar to that of the U.S. public.

  107. Fr. A.M. says:

    Diane at Te Deum Laudamus Fr. A.M. Says: “….perhaps I would have ‘invited’ him to confession.”

    It gives new meaning to the “penalty box” – LOL

    All kidding aside, yeah… This is what I’m talking about!

    - Not sure what you mean Diane. Confession is ‘good for the soul’ after all, and makes us realise the (deadly)seriousness of sin, and God’s love and mercy for us. It helps us realise that we have acted irresponsibly as disciples of Chirst and how we, with God’s grace and forgivenss, should act in the future. Fr. Sotelo, I am in general agreement with you.

  108. Fr. A.M. – perhaps calling the confessional a “penalty box” was imprudent and disrespectful. It wasn’t intended this way.

    Clarifying my last sentence….

    I was agreeing with you that “inviting” someone to confession is actually the higher road and the more likely to bring about the necessary conversion – moreso than a slap.

    It goes to what I said in my earlier posts when I said that someone qualified to probe the young man’s conscience on the “why”, is necessary step.

    Being that this all transpired after the fact (it was not preventing further sacrilege), and considering the seriousness of such an act, then attempting to draw the young man into Sacramental Confession, to me, would be primary. How likely is the young man (especially at 21) to want to follow the priest off into the necessary privacy once he has been smacked? This would take extraordinary self-restraint (as you rightly pointed out) and patience on the part of the priest since no one can be forced into making a Confession.

    Slapping may work to the satisfaction of those watching as is evidenced in every combox where this is being discussed), but does not necessarily bring about interior conversion. Sure, he may learn never to do it again, but perhaps only to avoid further corporal punishment or embarassment.

    In a town of about 1300 people, this is likely the only Church around. I’m wondering if any of those three young men at the center of this will come closer to God as a result of this experience, or find themselves more distant from Him and the Sacramentts.

    In case anyone missed it, Fr. Sotelo offered a summary on an updated Spanish article in this comment which goes into greater detail about the situation

  109. paladin says:

    Fr. Sotelo wrote:

    Even if the Charter does not explicitly forbid slapping minors, I can assure you that no priest in the United States who wishes to continue in ministry is going to slap a minor.

    Right; and you’ll note that I agreed, earlier (though I see it as a matter of pragmatism, not ethics).

    However, besides the legal issues, you are under a mistaken impression that I am attempting to enunciate a universal principle of moral theology. I never set out to do that, so there is no need to refute my premises as if we are dealing with the terms of a syllogism.

    Well… all right. But I hope you can see how your earlier comments (cf. “priests are not appointed by Christ to punish corporally [which is quite vague: priests were not appointed by Christ to serve at table, either, but it doesn't follow that such a thing is not forbidden], “St. Thomas Aquinas clearly denounced having priests strike others”, “priests should abhor such a thing”, etc.) left rather the opposite impression. For example: I don’t see how your presentation of St. Thomas’ words could smack of situationalism; you made it sound rather absolute… and on moral grounds, not on pragmatic “deference to current law and prudence” grounds. But I’ll accept your word on this, of course.

    What was effective for Don Bosco 100 years ago or for Padre Pio 50 years ago may not be the most spiritually edifying course of action in the here and now.

    You’re using a bit of guarded understatement, here, I think (e.g. it also may not be the most spiritually edifying thing to watch a bishop slaughter chickens, but it doesn’t follow that it’s any less appropriate for him to do so in modern times than it was in ages past). You seem to be suggesting that corporal punishment is similar to slavery: tolerable in the past, but to be expunged from society as quickly as possible; I agree that it’s never desirable in the pure sense (did I not make that clear?), but I assert that it’s sometimes morally licit–and even morally necessary, in some cases. No sane person–parent, priest, bishop, or otherwise–thinks that striking a child is “desirable” or “pleasant” or “enjoyable”, or anything other than a painful necessity. I argue only that its necessity has not become obsolete, in general, and that (USA law notwithstanding) even a priest–perhaps ESPECIALLY a priest, if dealing with sacrilege–may be called upon to administer medicinal corporal punishment, if that is truly the best way to win a soul back to the good path of Christ.

    The “good for a past age, but not now” idea also doesn’t explain how God Himself could have empowered Don Bosco to incorporate corporal punishment by means of a miracle… nor would it explain how, if St. Thomas already “warned against the practice” in the 13th century, it was somehow still licit for Don Bosco or St. Pio to practise it in the 19th and 20th centuries…

    But that does not mean that I can’t have a moral conviction on what is unpriestly conduct.

    Of course… and I said as much, though I think you may have taken some offense when I called it “your licit opinion” (and no offense was intended, I assure you). This is your private view, and you have a right to it, and you have a right to live by it (since it’s one of several licit views on corporal punishment allowed by the Church). My only concerns were your suggestions that Fr. Jimeno was guilty of wrongdoing (in the moral sense, not in the sense of any possible error in judging the boy’s guilt), and that any other priest who did likewise would be doing wrong. After all: even this verbal debate with you is difficult for me, since my reverence for your office (and the self-sacrifice you make in living it) makes me very loath to challenge a priest openly; but can you not sympathize with my view that Fr. Jimeno’s priestly dignity needs defense, as well? I cannot stand idly by and watch his good name tarnished without taking exception to it… especially since the objections to his actions seem (with all due respect) to be misguided.

    In a certain context, under certain conditions, I could be wrong and a brother priest who slaps minors could be right. That is what is tricky with a pastoral situation—there can be different responses for different cases because while universals stay the same they don’t always fit neatly and apply snugly to every situation. One size does not fit all.

    I’m heart and soul with you on that comment, Father.

    A priest who strikes minors, at the end of Mass without knowing exactly who spit out a Host, is going to jail.

    In other ages and other nations, that idea might have been compelling. But since a priest who protests a pro-abortion president’s reception of an award from a Catholic University is also going to jail, that’s not a very reliable test of what’s right and what’s wrong… nor is it a test of whether the original action should or should not have been done.

    He is going to create a harmful media frenzy against the Church,

    See above. The media needs no help in this matter; it will attack, whether we do true wrong, or whether we merely do what they don’t like.

    He is going to be depriving the faithful of his sacraments,

    No, Father. The people who arrested him are doing that.

    and to impose upon the faithful costly expenses for the lawyers who must handle the lawsuit,

    Again, no; the state authorities are doing that. This is not a minor point; unless you’re suggesting that the priest committed a moral wrong by his action, you cannot rightly say that he was responsible for the actions of the state in response to it.

    We are at a point in the U.S. where we simply must find another method to deal with sinful and erring people, no ifs, ands, or buts.

    In this particular case, I reluctantly agree… though I would not find it wrong to work to change USA law, rather than Catholic practice.

    If the Spanish clergy still find that slapping minors is pastorally effective and accepted by the Spanish people, then perhaps you may wish to build a case for this priest being a model for other clergy to follow. If you wish to be his apologist, be my guest. I choose to disagree.

    At the risk of sounding a bit severe, Father: this is bordering on the maudlin. I said (repeatedly) that to speak of “slapping as policy” is nonsense; no one is looking to use it ahead of time! But there’s a chasm of difference between an established protocol (“if this happens, do that”) and a licit measure for extraordinary circumstances. Do you see my distinction?

  110. paladin says:

    Whoops… typo in the above:

    “…priests were not appointed by Christ to serve at table, either, but it doesn’t follow that such a thing is [not] forbidden…”

    …should, of course, read:

    “…priests were not appointed by Christ to serve at table, either, but it doesn’t follow that such a thing is NOW forbidden…”

  111. Fr_Sotelo says:

    paladin:

    *I said (repeatedly) that to speak of “slapping as policy” is nonsense; no one is looking to use it ahead of time! But there’s a chasm of difference between an established protocol (“if this happens, do that”) and a licit measure for extraordinary circumstances. Do you see my distinction?*

    I do see your distinction. But I also have never spoken of using slapping ahead of time, but in response to the sins of the youth or adults. It is too bad we cannot have this discussion in person, because we are speaking past each other. So, let me try to explain myself again. First, I think it is helpful to stick with the issue of priests striking at youth and not speak of corporal punishment of the youth in general by others besides priests. You stated:

    *I argue only that its necessity has not become obsolete, in general, and that (USA law notwithstanding) even a priest—perhaps ESPECIALLY a priest, if dealing with sacrilege—may be called upon to administer medicinal corporal punishment, if that is truly the best way to win a soul back to the good path of Christ.*

    I agree that corporal punishment of the youth has not become obsolete. I also agree that it is not “instrinsically evil” for even a priest to strike a youth, meaning that in Catholic morality a certain circumstance might take make this action morally licit. You rightly pointed out that Catholic morality also demands that the good to be accomplished must proportionately outweight the harm to be inflicted (when you stated the condition that it be “truly the best way to win a soul back”).

    However, I do not believe that those circumstances are present for priests today and with today’s youth. As a preliminary, in Catholic morality, the act of striking someone physically can go from morally neutral (doing it while you are sleep walking) to morally good (spanking an unruly child to curb vicious behavior) to morally bad (spousal battery). The morality of the act is changed according to the circumstance and the person, with the proportionality of harm *outweighing the good* to be accomplished.

    What I sincerely believe is that in the case of the Spanish priest, the harm outweighs the good. The young person here is ignorant of all things divine, as many youth in Spain. He has no contact with the Eucharist or the Church. When he ignorantly discards the Host, the person who represents sacred things to him accidently slaps his friend.

    Regardless of who is slapped, there is clearly the element of rage and scandal by these youth. The articles clearly reports that the offending and ignorant youth *remains ignorant* but is now also angered at the Church for physical aggression. The one slapped, and his friend, have not spoken to the priest (reconciliation was exchanged with the parents). Obviously, and more to the point, the priest himself feels he did something wrong *for he tood the initiative to apologize* and would not have done this if he felt his action was virtuous, good, or did anything to, in your words, “win a soul back to the good path of Christ.” So, I have not tarnished the name of this brother priest by saying his action was wrong, for he seems to agree with me *by seeking pardon for his action.*

    As for your other statements: Did St. John Bosco or St. Pio strike the youth? Even if they did, it does not mean that God willed them to, *regardless of how biographers may interpret the alleged divine inspiration of these acts.* Did Christ prohibit the clergy from striking the youth? No, He didn’t, but His example of meekness and humility in the public ministry and His passion should not be discarded as irrelevant for the actions to be taken by priests. Did numerous priests strike the youth in times past with the intention of it being a salutary remedy to their pride and sin, and was this done with the apparent approval of the Church? Yes on both counts. Whether it actually was that salutary, I guess, would depend on the circumstances and the person.

    The important point, however, is that the act, according to Catholic morality, can go from being good to being bad depending on the harm, as opposed to the good, which is accomplished. I believe in these times, as the Spanish case illustrates, that more harm is done when priests slap youth who are alleged desecrators, and therefore we priests should now consider these acts to be wrong on moral as well as legal grounds. You are right that civil law is not the best measure for the actions of priests, for Christ’s example of gentleness has provided a far better model.

  112. Fr. Sotelo,

    Thank you for your continued dialogue in this thread, which I find enlightening.

    I am also grateful for the update you have provided. I have only been reading newer updates through a google translator which is not good, and was unsure if I was getting it right. You confirmed for me that the priest had apologized and I got the same sense that you seemed to get, that he has regrets.

    I truly empathize with the Spanish priest. It had to have crushed him. And, if these young men were being disrespectful in any way to him on top of it, I can see all the more where he might feel compelled to bring them into line.

    What is the ultimate concern of a priest when a young person commits a sacrilege of this nature today? So many adults who sit in the pews every Sunday do not believe in the Real Presence. How much moreso, for young people?

    Before you can get the young man to authentic repentance, you need to bring him to belief which he obviously does not have if he could do such a thing (if this was the work of a satanist it would have been more discreet).

    This poor priest is probably taking a double-whammy right now: He is grieving for the offense committed against the Blessed Sacrament and the erosion of faith amongst youth, while at the same time pondering how he might have pushed the young man further away from God and the sacraments with that slap.

    There is a third element, and that is the vicious reaction of atheists and typical response of secularists. I don’t even want to link to them here, but I am concerned that more desecrations could follow this episode.

    Christ Himself would be most interested in the young man’s conversion to belief (which will then bring about authentic reverence for the Eucharist). As that young man offended Our Lord, I’m sure Jesus responded with the same thirst for his soul that he did for those who drove nails into His hands and His feet. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

    Despite what I feel is a two-fold nature of the tragedy (the double-whammy), I believe much grace will come down and people – priest and laity alike will learn from it. I know I have.

  113. paladin says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    First, thank you for your obvious effort to clarify what you meant; I think (?) we’re a bit closer in view to each other than I once supposed. (I do express my deep gratitude, also, for your priestly service; I live in dread of the possibility that my debate with you would in any way detract from that!)

    You wrote:

    I do see your distinction. But I also have never spoken of using slapping ahead of time, but in response to the sins of the youth or adults.

    Well… when you spoke of “offering a slapper-priest for emulation”, that suggested to me that you were talking about forming policy, or protocol (e.g. “When the Eucharist is defiled, be sure to keep ‘slapping the offender’ in your repertoire of responses!”). I wasn’t recommending “slapping” as a positive (in the philosophical sense) remedy; rather, I was defending it, now that it had been used. In my mind, there’s a clear difference between saying “this is what should be done!” and saying “this was allowable and just, in such a case”. I believe the latter.

    First, I think it is helpful to stick with the issue of priests striking at youth and not speak of corporal punishment of the youth in general by others besides priests.

    Fair enough.

    What I sincerely believe is that in the case of the Spanish priest, the harm outweighs the good.

    That might be the case… but to be fair, you and I (and he) now have the advantage of 20-20- hindsight, which colours our perspectives in a way that Fr. Jimeno did not yet have, and could not reasonably have been expected to have. I’d also caution against making this a utilitarian equation, balancing “eventual harm” against “eventual good”; on that basis, if someone were to offer even a verbal rebuke, followed by the offended youth driving his car off a bridge and drowning himself, we’d have to conclude that “the verbal rebuke was worse than even the slap”… which is illogical, to say the least.

    The young person here is ignorant of all things divine, as many youth in Spain.

    That’s possible… but (and this is my opinion, only) there seem to be many questions unanswered, even then:

    1) Why would a complete ignoramus go up to receive the host, only to “discover that he didn’t know what ‘it’ was”, and what to do with ‘it’? (Wouldn’t he have known of his ignorance, 30 seconds earlier?) If you were to enter into a solemn procession and were handed something with great solemnity, would you (even if you had no idea what ‘it’ was) be inclined to cast it on the floor? Even a dirt-level sensibility against LITTERING would have made the average sensible person pause! I’d be cautious against painting the “offended” youth as innocently ignorant, here.

    2) Why did his “Catholic friend” not tell him to stay put in his pew? Failing that, why didn’t he tell him not to receive the Eucharist? And failing even that, why didn’t HE make a scene when Our Lord was cast onto the floor? And failing even THAT, why was he so dumbfounded to find the priest outraged? If I knew that my negligence was responsible for an ignoramus friend desecrating Our Lord, I would fully understand (and feel that I deserved) all the blows the priest might give, and more! The so-called “innocent party” seems to be far from innocent, in this.

    3) I’m not quite convinced that the current story is the whole story; as a high school teacher, I’m quite familiar with boys–even otherwise good boys–”digging in their heels” and sticking to a false story, merely to save face. That seems all too likely, here, especially given the high-profile nature of the case (and the subsequent weight of humiliation, if they admitted a lie at this point).

    In short: something about even the “corrected account” of this situation doesn’t quite pass the “smell test”, for me.

    When he ignorantly discards the Host, the person who represents sacred things to him accidently slaps his friend. Regardless of who is slapped, there is clearly the element of rage and scandal by these youth. (emphasis mine)

    I’m not sure what you mean by that; do you mean to say (in this particular sentence) that the youth are CAUSING scandal, or that they have been SCANDALIZED, or both?

    The articles clearly reports that the offending and ignorant youth remains ignorant but is now also angered at the Church for physical aggression.

    There seems to be a very simple explanation for that: PRIDE. I know of many people in the United States–people who consider themselves “good, practicing Catholics” (complete with donations and membership in committees, etc.) who become very angered if someone dares to suggest that they cannot vote for their preferred culture-of-death candidate, or (horribilis dictu!) that they must not use contraception. It does not follow that any and every case of anger and offense is caused by an injustice.

    The one slapped, and his friend, have not spoken to the priest (reconciliation was exchanged with the parents).

    See above, re: “pride”. I can understand a reluctance to slap (heavens, do you think Fr. Jimeno *enjoyed* what he did, even in the moment? The one who enjoys inflicting *any* type of punishment is one who is completely unfit to bestow it…), but don’t you think the same sort of gripes would be levelled at Fr. Jimeno if he had merely yelled at the boys? (It’s easy, with 20-20 hindsight, to presume to say that the “reaction to slap would certainly have been worse”… but I’m not convinced of that, frankly; plenty of petulant people can get worked up over a lesser “offense”, if they have no greater “offense” against which to compare it. In fact, some people have milder reactions against more strident “offenses”, for a host of reasons.)

    Obviously, and more to the point, the priest himself feels he did something wrong for he tood the initiative to apologize and would not have done this if he felt his action was virtuous, good, or did anything to, in your words, “win a soul back to the good path of Christ.”

    Yes, but again: there’s a difference between saying, “This case was an unfortunate and unintentional miscarriage, since a “non-offender” was punished” and saying “the priest has no business slapping ANYONE, since this very thing can result!”. The first is logical; the second is a fallacy (akin to saying, “this girl was weeping and angry after you talked to her, so you must have done *something* wrong!”).

    So, I have not tarnished the name of this brother priest by saying his action was wrong, for he seems to agree with me by seeking pardon for his action.

    Yes, and no. You seem to be conflating a regret for an error (i.e. striking the wrong person) and a supposed regret for resorting to slapping in the first place. Even if Fr. Jimeno is (because of the pain of the consequences) now regretting the slap in general, that doesn’t show that the action itself was wrong. It’s possible to say, “Wow… if I knew then what I know now, I never would have done that!”, without at the same time saying that his action was “wrong”.

    As for your other statements: Did St. John Bosco or St. Pio strike the youth?

    Don Bosco certainly did; he struck a hard (though not at all crippling) blow, by miraculous means, to the back of one of his boys who was swimming miles away from him (and dozens of feet away from any of his colleagues), and who was using foul language at the time. Don Bosco describes the event like so (in a letter to his assistant, while he was away on retreat): “One of [the boys who was swimming in a lake local to the Oratory] was even so unworthy a son of the Oratory as to make use of disgusting language. I gave him a reminder, however, which he will not forget in a hurry…” The boy, when he read the letter, realized who had struck him, and he was extremely grateful for the reminder (and ashamed of his conduct). That, by the way, is an example of humility.

    Even if they did, it does not mean that God willed them to, regardless of how biographers may interpret the alleged divine inspiration of these acts.

    Well… unless you credit Don Bosco with being able to strike boys who are swimming hundreds of miles away, by his own power, I think you might need to revise that view.

    Did Christ prohibit the clergy from striking the youth? No, He didn’t, but His example of meekness and humility in the public ministry and His passion should not be discarded as irrelevant for the actions to be taken by priests.

    Of course not. Anyone who knew Don Bosco knew that he almost never used corporal punishment; he didn’t usually need it. But he used it when necessary–and his willingness to use it made it all the less likely that it would BE necessary.

  114. Paladin,

    I myself was familiar with the Don Bosco case as I had read it a couple of years ago. You offer one specific case of Don Bosco giving a young man his comeuppance on his behind through miraculous means.

    I don’t think this one instance is sufficient to say that Don Bosco used corporal punishment beyond this particular story. Show it to me in writing because I am unable to find it.

  115. Fr_Sotelo says:

    paladin:

    I thank you for your kind words. However, I must protest that am not resorting to utilitarian morality or equations when I speak of weighing a proportionate good. The utilitarian morality seeks what is practical and useful, even if the act involves grave matter or an immoral intention. Catholic moral thought forbids this, and I certainly did not advance engaging moral evil in order to secure a useful or practical outcome. I would be grateful if you would be careful with these terms.

    If we see even the example of a youth getting a verbal rebuke and then driving his car off a bridge, this disproves nothing but only enforces the Catholic belief that actions which are *not of themselves good or virtuous* require moral discernment and assurance of a morally good outcome. If, for instance, the youth who gets a harsh rebuke is suicidal at the moment, even a verbal rebuke would be wrong. Failure to discern the proportionate good is not only imprudent, but can even be rash conduct.

    As far as you or anyone seeing the incident described as improbable (ignorant youth receives Communion and discards the Host), I will just chalk that up to lack of experience of the sacred ministry. I have been a pastor in nine parishes, and I know for a fact that this incident, as described, is not only quite probable, but sadly, quite common. I am constantly, like a broken record, speaking about Communion etiquette at Communion time, because of these things happening all the time. But my priest friends, who do not do this constantly, speak of finding Hosts on the ground, in the booklets, etc. and only then get converted to the “broken record” school of instructing people about what Communion is, and how He should be received (or in some cases, how He should not be received).

    A priest who is in the care of souls, especially, knows that once he has made a grave mistake of harshness, he usually gets no second chances. It is not like slapping your son, with whom you live and still communicate day by day. Slapping a young adult, in a country like Spain where most of the youth have left the Catholic faith, means that this person will be scandalized. He will feel that his images of repressive and dictatorial religion are only validated and he now has no reason to ever return to the Faith of his ancestors. A priest cannot afford to simply say, “oh well, if the youth weren’t so prideful, they would truly benefit when they commit a sin and I later slap them for it.”

    Prideful or not, I as a pastor have the obligation to get those kids to heaven, and I will be judged for this. I have to go and reach them where they are at. I have to explain what the Host is when they are ignorant. I have to speak to them about reverence. Maybe if that doesn’t work, my ushers will have to resort to harsher methods to teach them more respect, but I still have to make an effort with honey before I pour out the vinegar. I cannot simply hide behind the actions of a Don Bosco or Padre Pio, and say, “oh well, God told them to do it, and even though God didn’t tell me to act this way, I’ll just assume this is what God wills.”

  116. Fr. Sotelo says: “Prideful or not, I as a pastor have the obligation to get those kids to heaven, and I will be judged for this. I have to go and reach them where they are at. I have to explain what the Host is when they are ignorant. I have to speak to them about reverence.”

    How true and what comes to mind:

    - 1 Thes 5:14 and Romans 14:1

  117. Norah says:

    Surbanbanshee I think you may be confusing St Jean Marie Vianney with St Louis de Montfort re the boxing.

    It is all very well and good for we armchair critics to condem the priest but hearing that the Body and Blood of Christ had been profaned father had a rush of blood to the head and smacked the 21 year old. If father hadn’t loved the Eucharist and believed in the Real Presence he wouldn’t have acted as he did. Had he been asked on an exam paper if a priest should hit a young person in such a situation he would probably answer no but when the profanation happened was not the calm, rarified atmosphere of the combox or the examination room. Do I think father was correct to do what he did? Objectively no but subjectively his culpability was much mitigated.

    If a man sees his wife insulted would he immediately spring to her defense or would he take the assailant aside and calmly discuss the matter over a cup of coffee? St Tarsisius was martyred defending the Eucharist from profanation. A young Chinese girl was murdered by a soldier who caught her consuming consecrated Hosts which had been trampled into the church floor.

    Thank God for priests in our day and age who actually believe in the Real Presence.

  118. paladin says:

    Hi, Diane,

    You wrote:

    I myself was familiar with the Don Bosco case as I had read it a couple of years ago. You offer one specific case of Don Bosco giving a young man his comeuppance on his behind through miraculous means.

    Well… not exactly on his behind (it was a punch in the back, which left a bruise which lasted for at least a day). I gave the book reference, above.

    I don’t think this one instance is sufficient to say that Don Bosco used corporal punishment beyond this particular story.

    Nor did I suggest that he ever did; in fact, I specifically said the opposite, in my comment immediately preceding this one.

    Show it to me in writing because I am unable to find it.

    (??) By “it”, do you mean “*another* case of Don Bosco using corporal punishment, or did you mean the original miraculous one? If the latter, see above. If the former, then I really don’t see why it would be necessary; I was challenging a very specific claim of Fr. Sotelo: that corporal punishment does not befit a priest’s dignity (cf. St. Thomas’ writings, Christ’s admonition to turn the other cheek, etc.), and that any priest should abhor it. It takes only one God-empowered counterexample to refute that; I really don’t see how Our Lord would empower an action “ill-suited, proscribed and abhorrent to a priest” with a miraculous “assist”.

    I have no special complaint with his later, modified, “softer” claim that he views corporal punishment as “unsuitable for the modern age, given the clientele with whom we’re dealing”. (I don’t really agree that such a claim is true worldwide, but it’s a reasonable claim.)

  119. Fr_Sotelo says:

    paladin:

    Returning to Don Bosco, and not wanting to beat a dead horse as the saying goes, I believe we have to be careful of these examples of extraordinary supernatural gifts. The Church does not accept these incidents as material for theological and spiritual teaching, because they are private moments of special phenomenon (e.g. bilocation) which cannot be ascertained with accuracy. Nor can they be placed on a par with the sources of revelation, which alone can be used for Catholic doctrine on mystical matters.

    Biographers rely on sources which are not always accurate, repeating for instance a quote from a letter which does not exist. And the quote does not say explicitly, “God granted me (Don Bosco) the gift of bilocation, during which time I struck one of my spiritual sons for using foul language.” Rather, many, many years after this incident, Fr. Neil Boyton relates that the actual letter is not there anymore. Boyton relies on a quote of an alleged witness who says they heard the letter being read, and that Don Bosco said such and such.

    The point is we do not even know for a fact that Don Bosco said these things or if these things actually happened as they are related by Fr. Boyton in his book “The Blessed Friend of Youth.” Those of us with devotion to Don Bosco might readily accept these matters from pious belief and wanting them to be true. But Mother Church has a far more skeptical and rigorous weighing of these matters. In matters of private revelations or bilocations, she is wisely prudent and judicious not to use these incidences as if God has spoken from on high.

    God has not spoken. Instead, we are reading about something said by someone (Boyton) who heard it from someone else (one of the boys of the Oratory of Don Bosco), who then claims to have heard it from Fr. Rua, who supposedly related this incident from a letter of Don Bosco (which does not exist now), many decades before this book was even written by Fr. Boyton. *So much for the “God-empowered counterexample” which refutes my stance.*

    Even assuming that the person who heard about this from another person who heard this from another person who read this in a letter from Don Bosco has actually managed to tell us something that really happened in the life of Don Bosco, it only goes to show that he knew that one of his kids was misbehaving and gave him a sign he would not soon forget. This does not even have to be bilocation and striking the kid. This could be Don Bosco seeing this in a vision and then asking the kid’s guardian angel to give him a punch in the back. In any event, I have very good reason to assume the usual skepticism of the Church and cast serious doubt whether God bilocated Don Bosco just so he could punch someone in the back for cussing.

  120. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Norah:

    You have perhaps given us something we all agree on. Namely, regardless of how each of us views “the slap” we know at least that Fr. Jimeno is a priest of deep Eucharistic faith. I admire this in my brother priest.

    We also know that Fr. Jimeno acted from righteous anger, and again that is to be admired, because when we stop getting angry at sacrilege we know we are losing our faith, or our backbone, or both. I think in the end Father found a way to bring good about, because it gave Fr. Jimeno the chance to give good Eucharistic teaching in his parish and to follow it up with prayers of reparation. And Our Lady of Fatima reminds us that we can never have enough reparation for blasphemy and sacrilege.

  121. paladin says:

    Hi, Fr. Sotelo,

    I think you may’ve taken my “utilitarian equation” statement in a direction I didn’t mean for it to go. As a logician and (utterly amateur) philosopher, I note a distinction between “using a utilitarian example” and “embracing utilitarianism as a moral code”. Nowhere did I say (or mean to suggest) the latter; I don’t subscribe to the “if you’re in for a dime, you must be in for a dollar” view of things (which is fallacious nonsense, anyway). At the risk of setting off more confusion with another metaphor: it’s a bit like thinking that someone can argue an isolated position of political socialism without embracing the murderous worldview of Stalin. I, for example, might mistakenly use a utilitarian technique, perhaps without being fully aware that I’ve done so (until someone else pointed it out to me); but I hardly think that would transform me entirely into another Jeremy Bentham! Case in point: I wasn’t calling you a “utilitarian”, if that helps.

    Incidentally: if you’d like to replace “utilitarian equation” with “reliance on pragmatism”, that’d be fine with me; I have no special attachment to the former. My sole purpose was to caution against the fallacious idea of saying, “the worse the consequences, the less morally licit the action must have been”. (That was also my point with the suicidal rebuked teenager; free will has a nasty habit of allowing the most horrific of reactions, even to the most noble and licit of actions. As an example: should I stop issuing reasonable (i.e. proportionate and non-cruel) rebukes and detentions at school, simply because there’s a nonzero probability that any given student might retaliate irrationally by bringing a gun to school?)

    You wrote:

    If, for instance, the youth who gets a harsh rebuke is suicidal at the moment, even a verbal rebuke would be wrong. Failure to discern the proportionate good is not only imprudent, but can even be rash conduct.

    It can be, yes. In my earlier comments, I was asserting only that it need not be rash, “by definition” (i.e. no appeals to Aquinas, the meekness of Christ, etc., could make any solid case against priestly corporal punishment a priori. Since you already agreed with that (I think?), that point seems to be settled, anyway.

    I would add, though, that the severity of the offense really does (and should) have a bearing on the response; if someone sneered at me, I can pass it by in silence (and offer up my suffering at the offense, for the sake of the offender’s soul); but if someone else (forgive the example) gropes or molests my wife, they can expect a far more speedy and strident reaction… and not only for reasons of mere temper/passion. “Meekness” is indeed a virtue… but many people confuse it with “mildness”, which is wrong; meekness is “strength under control”–not “blandness of spirit” or “perpetually soft speech and action” (or else Christ Himself would have violated meekness in His scathing denunciation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23).

    As far as you or anyone seeing the incident described as improbable (ignorant youth receives Communion and discards the Host), I will just chalk that up to lack of experience of the sacred ministry.

    I don’t think you understood me correctly, Father. Nowhere did I say that “ignorant youth receives Communion and discards the host” was improbable (sadly enough); rather, I suggested that it was extremely improbable for the youth to do so INNOCENTLY. The last sentences of the first two paragraphs show that, I think:

    — quote —
    I’d be cautious against painting the “offended” youth as innocently ignorant, here.

    The so-called “innocent party” seems to be far from innocent, in this.

    — end quote —

    I am constantly, like a broken record, speaking about Communion etiquette at Communion time, because of these things happening all the time.

    That’s laudable, and prudent; and I’m sure it prevents a great many problems that might otherwise happen. I’m also sure that enhancing (or starting) such a practice would greatly help Fr. Jimeno’s parish, as well. Again: my specific point was in response to the idea that, given the “situation as it was”, Fr. Jimeno somehow “did wrong” (which is annoyingly ambiguous, in English: it can mean “made a mistake”, or it can mean “did something for which he was culpable”) by slapping the youth. I argue that, while it’s indeed possible, it is not certain… and it certainly isn’t true “by definition” (i.e. provably wrong by a priori principles… as seemed to be your point when you spoke of “priest-enacted slapping being abhorrent, counter to the Will and example of Christ, and/or proscribed by St. Thomas Aquinas”).

    Perhaps this will help:

    1) Do I think that “slapping the source of sacrilege” is always a “good” thing to do? Not in the least.

    2) Do I think that “slapping the source of sacrilege” is always a prudent thing to do? No.

    3) Am I prepared to recommend “slapping the source of sacrilege” to priests who find themselves in that position, either as a standard course of action or as an “option to keep handy, if you so choose”? No.

    4) Do I think that, all other things being equal, “slapping the source of sacrilege” should be replaced by milder means? Absolutely.

    5) Do I think that “slapping the source of sacrilege” could have severe local (or not so local) repercussions in our culture and climate? Yes, almost certainly.

    6) Is it reasonable for someone to suggest that “slapping the source of sacrilege” should be eschewed by priests in our culture? Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable… and wise, as well.

    …but here are, so far as I can tell, MY main points:

    7) Do I think that “slapping the source of sacrilege” is somehow “intrinsically less licit” than it was in ages past (somewhat akin to slavery, or the more liberal use of capital punishment)? No.

    8) Do I think that any given priest “slapping the source of sacrilege” has definitely done something wrong, and that any given case should merit rebuke? No.

    9) Do I think that anyone who DOES see “slapping the source of sacrilege” as a legitimate reaction must be wrong, even given the current situation? NO.

    Does that clarify, a bit?

  122. paladin says:

    Fr. Sotelo wrote:

    Returning to Don Bosco, and not wanting to beat a dead horse as the saying goes, I believe we have to be careful of these examples of extraordinary supernatural gifts. The Church does not accept these incidents as material for theological and spiritual teaching, because they are private moments of special phenomenon (e.g. bilocation) which cannot be ascertained with accuracy. Nor can they be placed on a par with the sources of revelation, which alone can be used for Catholic doctrine on mystical matters.

    Half a moment, Father. You’re making some very sweeping generalizations, here.

    It’s one thing to say that the account of the extraordinary “corporal punishment” given by Don Bosco is not part of the Sacred Deposit of Faith, and that one can be a Catholic in good standing while refusing to believe it. That’s certainly true. It’s quite another thing to say that this (or any other such anecdote) “cannot be used as material for theological and spiritual teaching”; that statement is so broad as to be approaching vacuity. If you mean that no element of Catholic dogma will ever contain it, I’ll happily agree with you. If, rather, you mean that it cannot be used by private individuals to arrive at a conclusion of “natural reason”, then I can only wonder how you come to that conclusion… especially since your own evidence (e.g. paucity of “recommendations for corporal punishment in the writings of the Saints”) is in the same category, at very least (in addition to approaching a fallacious argument from silence–e.g. do you know of any Saints who, in their formal writings, recommended corporal punishment at the hands of parents? You’d condoned that, if memory serves…).

    If you want to go on the record as saying that the letter from Don Bosco was a forgery, you’re welcome to do so… but I think you’ll have some difficulty proving that. If you want to suggest that the account was such an unreliable third-hand, fourth-hand, etc., account that only a fool would use it as evidence of anything, then I’ll leave you to your opinion in silence and disagreement. I would add, however, that if you’re going to dismiss the Don Bosco incident as “mere non-’de fide’ hearsay”, you may need evidence of your own which doesn’t fall into an equally shaky category. I also think that, when you expounded your view that “no priest should ever corporally punish”, you didn’t make a very solid case, objectively speaking, even though you expressed beautiful sentiments, in the process. (I could “fisk” your comments and show you what I mean, bit by bit… but the process would be as tedious to read as it would be to write, and I don’t think either one of us would enjoy the process.) There seem to be many points on which we’ll simply have to agree to disagree.

    I really do think, however, that this particular topic is exhausted; if I understand you correctly, your point is that “you feel it’s not prudent for priests to punish corporally”, and you feel that you have some good reasons to support your view. I see nothing unreasonable about that at all (though I disagree, to some extent). The points with which I disagreed were largely incidental to that “main point” of yours, anyway.

    If you insist, I can pursue this further with you (reluctantly); but at this point, I do think we can leave it lie without either of us suffering any harm.

  123. Paladin,

    I’m not so sure you and I were reading the same set of words by Fr. Sotelo.

    I am getting the impression that you like to argue for the sake of arguing. And, your comments come across to me as disrespectful and condescending.

  124. paladin says:

    Diane,

    Don’t throw gasoline on a fading fire, please. And I’ll thank you not to insult me as you’ve just done. Nowhere did Fr. Sotelo or I question each others’ goodwill or sincerity; I suggest you take the same example.

  125. My finger hovers over the delete button as I ponder suspending posting ability for certain people.

  126. Paladin said: Don’t throw gasoline on a fading fire, please

    Friend, I think you are doing a good job of this all on your own. Here are just a few examples for you to consider with regards to what I said about condescending and disrespectful.

    “…If you want to suggest that the account was such an unreliable third-hand, fourth-hand, etc., account that only a fool would use it as evidence of anything, then I’ll leave you to your opinion in silence and disagreement…:

    “…If you want to go on the record as saying that the letter from Don Bosco was a forgery, you’re welcome to do so…”

    I didn’t even get a hint of this from Fr. Sotelo’s response, so I’m not sure where you are getting it from. This was a particularly “smart” response:

    It’s quite another thing to say that this (or any other such anecdote) “cannot be used as material for theological and spiritual teaching”; that statement is so broad as to be approaching vacuity.

    You ended by saying: If you insist, I can pursue this further with you (reluctantly); but at this point, I do think we can leave it lie without either of us suffering any harm

    I think it would be very good of you to let Fr. Sotelo respond to your latest comments. Whether you agree with him or not, allow him to have the last word. Just think of it as an opportunity to practice virtue. Offer it up for a suffering priest in Spain who would probably very much love to get closer to these young men at the center of this controversy, and bring them truly home.

  127. Oops – goodness, Fr. Z… I was writing as you were.

    This one has run it’s course.

  128. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Diane and paladin:

    I think our main points about the “Spanish incident” have been presented, and there is no need to continue debating.

  129. Fr_Sotelo says:

    paladin:

    I do think you like to argue, and pick apart things, but I don’t think you were disrespectful. Even your words that a statement of mine approached “vacuity” was, I thought, dramatic and comical, but not disrespectful (I hear the word “vacuous” used to describe ditsy blondes LOL). But I should clarify that this sweeping comment flows from the theological distinction of public revelation and private revelations/mystical phenomena (Don Bosco’s bilocation would fall under mystical phenomenon).

    When you study the authors of dogmatic tomes, such as Ludwig Ott or Adolphe Tanqueray, you will find that they state that visions, apparitions, supernatural phenomena, etc. experienced by saints is *not used by the Church for theological and doctrinal demonstration.* Or said another way, you can debate theology and doctrine from the sources of revelation, not the private events which happen to saints.

    These authors say that Catholic teaching must originate in Christ and the Apostles. Once that dominical and apostolic preaching comes to an end, there are no more “building blocks” for doctrine and theology, so to speak. Any new, mystical, supernatural, miraculous, charismatic phenomena that happens in the Church, or in the lives of the saints, is frosting on the cake. The Church, so to speak, never allows miracles and visions to compete or have equality with what actually came from the mouth of Jesus and the apostles. That Divine Revelation does not compete with private revelations–it judges them.

    So, the phenomenon of Don Bosco’s alleged bilocation and punching of one of his boys would not pass muster, for the Catholic Church, to theologically demonstrate that God has now revealed this to the Church to be an acceptable course of moral action. This event in the life of Don Bosco would be regarded by the Church as 1) a private occurence between God, Don Bosco, and the youth, *not a “reveletory” event meant to speak to the entire Church* and 2) the event does not originate from the Lord and the apostles in the first century, and thus cannot de facto be authoritative to “bind the entire Church in the assent of faith” or formulate her doctrine of faith.

    It would be like me formulating a doctrine of hell, and who is there, based upon Our Lady of Fatima showing hell to the three children. Do I believe Our Lady appeared and did this? Yes, and I may even say in a homily, “as the Virgin said to Lucia during the apparition of Fatima…etc…etc..” But a Catholic with keen theological ears could say to me afterwards, “tisk, tisk, Father. You should know that the substance of private revelation, while edifying, cannot be presented from the pulpit as Catholic doctrine, and if it presented as such, I possess the right to withold assent.”

    This is what I meant by my comment, paladin. While the stories of Don Bosco are edifying and may be given pious credence, they cannot, in the classroom, or in a Catholic blog, be used as the data or substance of an argument that “God wills this behavior.” What God wills, the Church says, is to be gleaned from the data, in Scripture and Tradition, which is transmitted to the Church from Our Lord and the apostles.

    I may be stating this poorly, so instead of formulating a response I would suggest studying this issue from a good theological author, paying attention to the role of public revelation and private revelation in the formulations of doctrine and their role in the debates of Catholic theology.

  130. @Paladin,

    Perhaps my impression would have been different if this was a verbal discussion, as opposed to a written one. My apologies.

    @Fr. Sotelo,

    Many thanks, again. While that which you convey about private revelations is good and interesting, I would have to say that I learned more by observing your patience, and other silent lessons.

    @Fr. Z

    Sorry for making you come in here to keep order.

  131. paladin says:

    Diane,

    Apology accepted; and I am truly sorry if I came across as anything other than intense in my pursuit of the point at hand (which is a subset of my pursuit of the truth); I honestly never meant otherwise, and I certainly didn’t mean to offend or make things personal.

    Fr. Sotelo,

    Thanks for being a good sport. :) I admire not only your priestly efforts, but your fairness, as well. As for “liking to argue”–I’d put it in a slightly different way: I do occasionally like to debate (“argue”, at least in the USA, has the unwholesome connotation of “quarrel”, which I dislike intensely), and I see nothing wrong with an intense debate… even if certain moments get energetic and/or heated… between respectful rivals (something like a jousting match, so long as it’s friendly), but I also like to support that which I think is true, for its own sake–not through any vainglory. I was watching a number of commenters lament what they saw to be the “badness” of the slap in question, and that worried me a bit, for many reasons too numerous to list here–but largely because it seemed to cast those who approved of the slap (in principle, if not necessarily in that particular application) in a bad light. I didn’t think that was quite fair, and I tried to defend that point of view as best I could (given limited time to think/type). No hard feelings?

    Fr. Z,

    Thanks for your patience, too!

    And with that: Paladin, over and out!

  132. Just published today… in English at CNA/EWTN

    Details of the story…

  133. Fr_Sotelo says:

    paladin: No hard feelings. If I am reading your blog correctly, I believe you are a high school teacher. This must be a sensitive topic for you. So, I think you are a far better sport than me. If I had to deal with teens all day long, I would slap, slap, and slap away, taking back everything I have said in this thread. LOL!!!

  134. paladin says:

    ;) (Just for the record: no slaps to my students, in 16 years…)

    And in case it helps: when I spoke of a “vacuous” statement, I was thinking purely in logical, clinical terms; “if a statement is vacuously true, it’s a tautology”, etc. Anyone can make a statement like that, and it’s no reflection on their intelligence, goodwill, etc., at all; it’s a mere detail of the discussion/debate, much like (in ordinary life) I might say, “by the way… you dropped your watch!” It honestly had no more emotional gradient for me than that!

    For me–there’s also a cosmic chasm of difference between calling a statement vacuous (which is no more of a negative reflection on the speaker than would be forgetting one’s car keys–it’s to be corrected, not reviled!), and calling a person vacuous (which I’ve never done in my life, and may God allow my guardian angel to slap me silly before He lets me ever do so!).