Priests suspend YouTube program after making ‘comments in bad taste’ about Pope Francis — By: Catholic News Agency

Four of the six priests who regularly appear in “The Sacristy of the Vendée” program on YouTube. / Credit: Screenshot/Sacristy of the Vendée

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 7, 2024 / 17:05 pm (CNA).

Father Francisco José Delgado, a Spanish priest who hosts “La Sacristía de la Vendée” (“The Sacristy of the Vendée”) program on YouTube, announced the suspension of the program “until further notice” following the controversy sparked by a “comment in bad taste” made about Pope Francis by one of the priests during a recent episode.

“After much reflection and of our own volition, wanting to avoid putting our bishops in the position of having to make a difficult decision that would grant victory to our enemies, we have decided to make a strategic retreat,” the priest said during a live broadcast March 6.

“Perhaps losing a battle but avoiding losing the war, that is, let no one be mistaken: No one is forcing us to do anything, nor were we forced to apologize, rather we’re taking that step freely so that it is even more evident that we seek nothing but the good of the Church, unlike those who persecute us,” he continued.

“What does this mean in practice? We’re suspending all programs on our ‘Sacristía de la Vendée’ channels until further notice,” the priest of the Archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, explained to viewers.

“It’s a matter of taking in advance the break that we were going to take anyway for Holy Week and extending it indefinitely until we can see that our work doesn’t endanger the fundamental purpose for which we have given our lives many years ago, our priesthood,” he added.

What is ‘La Sacristía de la Vendée’?

“La Sacristía de la Vendée” is a YouTube channel that once a week broadcasts, among other content, a “counterrevolutionary gathering of priests” in which several priests from different dioceses participate.

The Vendée is a region on the west coast of France that resisted the French Revolution of 1789–1799. Most of its priests refused to take the oath affirming the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which effectively subordinated the French Catholic Church to the revolutionary government. A bloody civil war ensued, which the Vendeans lost.

The priests who usually take part are Father Gabriel Calvo Zarraute, Father Francisco José Delgado, and Father Rodrigo Menéndez Piñar, all from the Archdiocese of Toledo in Spain; Father Juan Manuel Góngora from the Diocese of Almería, Spain; Father Roylan Recio from the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Father Francisco Torres from the Diocese of Plasencia, Spain.

What did the priests say about Pope Francis?

During the Feb. 22 broadcast of the program, Delgado referenced the feast of the day, the Chair of St. Peter, stating that this was a day “to pray for the Petrine office of the Successor of Peter.” Góngora, in his initial greeting, encouraged on the occasion of that feast that viewers be “united in truth and fidelity to the Holy Father and praying for him, for his person and intentions.”

In his presentation, Calvo added: “I also pray a lot for the pope, so that he can go to heaven as soon as possible,” to which Delgado added: “It’s one of the things you can pray for anyone.”

Next, Father Charles Murr, an American priest invited to the program, was introduced and said that he joined with “Father Gabriel Calvo’s prayers for the Holy Father,” to which Calvo replied: “There are many of us with that intention.” It was then that Delgado added: “Well, perhaps we’ll be praying harder.”

The priests apologize

On Feb. 28, the Archdiocese of Toledo demanded that the priests of the “La Sacristía de la Vendée” apologize for the comments made “in bad taste” on the Feb. 22 broadcast, which they did in a Feb. 28 post on X.

“We’re sorry for the unfortunate comment said in jest about ‘praying for the pope to go to heaven as soon as possible,’” the priests said in the post. “It was a comment in bad taste and although it does not express the wish for the pope to die, as some media have maliciously portrayed, we understand that it can be understood that way.”

In their statement they expressed their “adherence to Pope Francis, in the same terms in which it was clearly expressed in the program of last Feb. 15. We reject attacks against the pope and the unity of the Church and those who deny the legitimacy of the pope’s ministry.”

‘Don’t stop praying for us’

Toward the end of the broadcast on March 6, after announcing that each of the program participants will continue with their individual apostolic projects online, Delgado asked viewers to “not stop praying for us,” because “above everything else we need this: the power of prayer and fasting is powerful enough to expel the demons that are attacking us in these times.”

“Persevere in good and reject evil, and have for us the mercy that has been denied to us by those who have turned that divine attribute into a sad publicity gimmick,” Delgado concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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