A French Catholic priest today spoke of his shame after being forced into instant retirement for hitting a two-year-old boy for crying during his baptism.
Father Jacques Lacroix, 89, said 'I am finishing my ministry now' and that 'there is an end to everything'.
He carried out the bizarre assault during a ceremony at the Collegiate Church in Champeaux, near Melun, in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris, last Sunday.
In a video of the incident that has gone viral, a clearly irritated Father Jacques is seen shouting at the boy.
'Calm down, calm down, you must calm down,' he says, adding 'be quiet' before squeezing the boy's face in his hands.
The priest then stares at the boy in the eyes, and slaps him hard on the cheek with his left hand.
The aggression prompts an immediate reaction from the boy's horrified parents and other family members, who finally prise him away from Father Jacques's grip.
Denying that the assault was too severe, Father Jacques told France Info radio on Friday: 'It was somewhere between a caress and a slap, I hoped to calm him down, I didn't know what to do.
'The child was screaming a lot and I had to turn his head to pour water over it.
'I told him to "calm down, calm down" but he was not calming down. I tried to hold him close. I just wanted him to calm down.
'I apologised for my clumsiness to the family. I am finishing my ministry now, it was my last baptism, there is an end to everything.'
Jean-Yves, the Bishop of Meaux, said he had 'taken measures so that the priest is suspended from all baptism and marriage celebrations.'
The Bishop said Father Jacques would only be allowed to celebrate mass in the future if this was cleared beforehand.
He said Father Jacques had been guilty of a 'loss of coolness that can be explained but not excused'.
The Bishop added: 'This gesture is all the more regrettable because the baptism is meant to be a happy moment, but tiredness and great age clearly played a part.'