The priest in Danao City, northern Cebu who danced along with his acolytes to a song that’s the current craze on social media site TikTok probably just wanted to cheer his parishioners on Dec. 23, 2022, the eighth day of the Misa de Gallo. The video of the dancing inside the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish went viral on social media, and there are people whose sensitivities got offended by it.
Some netizens commented on SunStar Cebu’s Facebook page that TikTok music must stay away from the church’s confines as it is a “sacred place,” and that the church must “preserve its holiness by continuing its principles.”
Archdiocese of Cebu spokesperson Msgr. Joseph Tan has said that the dance happened after the mass, and it was not a “moral issue” because the priest did not dance to “desecrate the altar willfully.”
The priest’s intention, Tan said, was “to spread some holiday cheer but not all find that proper.”
A church is one of the sacred places in the Roman Catholic world.
The Code of Canon Law, particularly Can. 1210, states, “Only those things which serve the exercise or promotion of worship, piety, or religion are permitted in a sacred place; anything not consonant with the holiness of the place is forbidden. In an individual case, however, the ordinary can permit other uses which are not contrary to the holiness of the place.”
By reading the passage, one may say that the priest’s dance was not “consonant with the holiness of the place.”
How about the song? The tune that is currently popular on TikTok is a remix of a Vietnamese hit pop song, “See Tình,” which translates to “see love,” according to a report by nextshark.com. The artist behind the song explained that the song was “inspired by the first time she fell in love during her teen years.”
It was a clean dance, pure fun. And the song was about love albeit teenage love, not spiritual love.
The Archdiocese is investigating the priest who could face disciplinary action.
Fr. Glenn Guanzon, head of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Committee, said what the priest did was improper, telling SunStar Cebu that “Sa usa ka lugar nga balaan, balaan gyod ang buhaton (In a place that is sacred, one must do what is a sacred thing to do).”
In 2020, a priest in New Orleans, United States got into trouble when he was caught “filming himself in a sexual act with two women atop an altar in his Louisiana parish. The priest was removed from ministry,” according to the catholicworldreport.com. The priest was arrested on obscenity charges and he later pleaded guilty to filming pornographic material on the parish altar.
This story shows how strict the Catholic Church is when enforcing its laws; however, the viral dance video of the Danao City priest is nowhere the Louisiana parish debacle.
From the viewpoint of an ordinary parishioner, it could be not immoral to spread some holiday cheer to the parishioners. But the Catholic Church has its Canon Law that priests must follow.
Perhaps, it’s high time for the Archdiocese to reorient its priests on the dos and don’ts inside the church.
December 28, 2022
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