‘Dancing’ Danao priest: Nonissue or sacrilege?
CEBU CITY—Keeping up with internet trends to spread holiday cheer is refreshing to some, but a dance number during Mass may upset Catholic sensitivities.
A priest at the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church in Danao City has drawn controversy after a video surfaced showing him and his acolytes swaying to the tune of “Ting Ting Tang Ting,” a catchy Vietnamese song currently popular on social media memes.
A 41-second video of Fr. Dennis Boltron’s performance, recorded during the pre-Christmas dawn Mass or “Simbang Gabi” on Dec. 18, was uploaded on Facebook later that day by Yeng Abinales, who asked in his post: “So you wake up early in the morning for this?”
“If you believe that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest form of worship and is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, will you really do this?,” asked the netizen, who said the video originated from one of the parishioners.
A longer, six-minute video showed the priest, still in his vestments, asking his acolytes to go to the altar and telling parishioners that they would do some “caroling” as a fundraiser to “modernize” the church’s toilet and have some gifts for church workers in need.
This longer clip started with the Cebuano Christmas song “Kasadya Ning Taknaa,” followed by “Jingle Bells.” The Ting Ting Tang dance came after the priest told the congregation about their caroling, after which he gave the final blessing to end the Mass.
Sought for comment, Msgr. Joseph Tan, the spokesperson for the archdiocese of Cebu, which has jurisdiction over the parish, said the priest “was not dancing to desecrate the altar willfully.”
“It was a nonissue except that it may offend the sensitivities of some in terms of propriety, but it is not a moral issue,” Tan added in an interview via Messenger. “Some (people) may feel it is inappropriate, but it was done outside of the Mass. His intention was to spread some holiday cheer, but not all find that proper.”
The priest’s action “is not encouraged but no penalties [are] required,” he said.
‘Less offensive’ if . . .
But Tan conceded that the priest should have removed his vestments to make his actions “less offensive,” a view shared by Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, a member of the Commission on the Laity in Cebu, who said the dance should not have been done at the altar.
Bullecer, who is also country director of Human Life International, told an interview on radio station dyLA that the Church should discipline the priest so as not to “set a precedent.”
“What the priest did was not only uncalled for but sacrilegious and desecrating the altar of God,” he said “(It) was nasty and an object of ridicule. I pity the house of God.”
As of this writing, the short video has since gone viral with 1.8 million views, 23,000 shares and over 1,300 reactions, while the longer version has been viewed more than 32,000 times, with 362 shares. INQ
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