A priest in the Philippines who rode around his church on a hoverboard at the end of Christmas mass has been temporarily suspended by his diocese for a period to “reflect” on his actions.
One of the parishioners filmed the event and posted it on Facebook, where it has garnered more than 14 million views.
In an online statement issued Tuesday night, the Diocese of San Pablo described the priest’s transgression:
Last December 24, 2015, before the final blessing of the Christmas eve mass, as a way of greeting his parishioners, the priest sang a Christmas song, while going around the nave standing on a hoverboard.
That was wrong.
The Diocese went on to say:
The Eucharist demands utmost respect and reverence. It is the Memorial of the Lord’s Sacrifice. It is the source and summit of Christian life. It is the Church’s highest form of worship. Consequently, it is not a personal celebration where one can capriciously introduce something to get the attention of the people.
The statement added that the priest, who has been identified as Father Albert San Jose, said that it was a “wake up call” for him. He “acknowledged that his action was not right and promised that it will not happen again.”
“He will be out of the parish and will spend some time to reflect on this past event,” it said. “He would like to apologize for what happened.”
The Philippines is the third-largest Christian country, with an estimated 80 million Catholics. Pope Francis visited the Asian country last January, where he warned local clergy to watch out for “a certain materialism which can creep into our lives and compromise the witness we offer.”
“Only by becoming poor ourselves,” he said, “will we be able to identify with the least of our brothers and sisters.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.