Fighting back against Eucharistic desecration — literally.

A handy travel tip: When in Spain, don’t desecrate the Eucharist.

A Catholic priest in Spain’s province of Valencia slapped a young man in a church in the town of Rótova during a local festival on the evening of September 5. Believing that the young man had discarded a communion wafer, which the Catholic faith teaches is truly the body and blood of Jesus Christ under the mere appearance of bread, Rev. Victor Jimeno then threw him out of the church while denouncing him as a “blasphemer.” The victim, however, returned the blow. A local politician has called upon the priest, as well as the young man and his parents, to meet on September 7 to discuss the matter.

The initial reaction so far seems to be, “Good for Padre.” Most people find it refreshing, I think, to see a priest take blasphemy so seriously, and treat it accordingly. Though there is some debate as to whether the young man was intentionally desecrating the Eucharist, or in fact merely covering for a friend:

According to statements made by the priest, the young man may actually be innocent and is taking the blame for a friend who actually did commit the deed. The priest spoke to the parents of the young man, who has taken to bed in an apparent fit of pique. Said Rev. Jimeno, “Rótova is a small town, a big family, and we don’t want the news to go further,” while he hopes that the town will not become the butt of jokes. 

 

I don’t think this story makes them a laughingstock at all — but it has sparked a conversation about the best way to handle situations like this. Patrick Archbold, who first drew attention to the story, says he once earned a smack from a priest when mouthing off in school, and the shock of it drove home the “epiphany that I no longer lived in a consequence-free world.” But others say it would have been best to take stock of the situation and speak to the young man first — especially if it turns out there was a misunderstanding. (Otherwise, the priest drove that poor boy to bed in a fit of pique for nothing. Ahem.)

What do readers think? In these cases, is it better to act first, ask questions later? What would you do if you saw what you thought was desecration of the Eucharist?

Margaret Cabaniss

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Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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