In what seems now to be a hoax, topless Femen protesters in Paris enacted the kidnapping of a Roman Catholic priest, creating a video that is coursing around the world.
The new kidnapping video was posted on Twitter Friday and gives every indication of having been staged. In it, activists announce that they have kidnapped a Catholic priest, and will release him only in exchange for the Pope cancelling his visit to the European Parliament. As of Friday evening, authorities have received no reports of a missing priest.
The video shows two hooded, topless Femen members abducting a man dressed as a priest in the street, forcing him into a car. The scene takes place in front of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in the northern suburbs of Paris, according to several Twitter users (information that can be confirmed by looking on Google Street view).
Femen has been organizing a series of high-visibility protests criticizing Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Last week, three bare-breasted Femen activists were arrested in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome after simulating sexual acts with crucifixes.
In the new video, the man dressed as a priest offers no resistance, and the Femen members easily force him into a car, helped by a sidekick. The scene is followed by a message in both French and English: “Femen kidnapps [sic] a priest demanding cancellation of Pope’s venue in European Parliament on 25th of November. God is not a magician. Pope is not a politician.”
Father Pierre-Hervé Grosjean, a priest of Versailles and the general secretary of the Commission on Ethics and Politics for the diocese, posted a note on Twitter denouncing the Femen video as both “insulting for true victims of kidnapping and an encouragement to violence.”
On Tuesday, Pope Francis will travel to deliver a formal speech in Strasbourg. This will be the second visit by a pope to the European Parliament, after that of John Paul II in 1988. In that visit, Pope John Paul’s address was interrupted by the Protestant extremist Ian Paisley, who shouted, “I renounce you as the Antichrist!”