THE Dean of Toledo Cathedral, Fr Juan Miguel Ferrer, has been forced to resign by his archbishop, after he allowed a national rap music star to film a dance video in his cathedral.
A press release from the archdiocese of Toledo wrote on Tuesday said: “He requests institutional forgiveness, in his own name and in that of the cathedral chapter, for errors and faults committed over recent days by word, deed and omission.
“We also consider it appropriate to reaffirm that, under internal chapter regulations, all money obtained from extraordinary activities in the cathedral is used for social purposes.”
The archdiocese was confirming the immediate departure of Fr Juan Miguel Ferrer. Fr Ferrer had permitted the recording of the video Ateo (“Atheist”) by Antón Álvarez Alfaro, better known as C. Tangana, for a reported fee of €15,000, in the Gothic cathedral, built between 1226 and 1493. The ten-minute film, watched by more than 3.5 million viewers in its first three days of release, showed the rapper in a sensual dance with an Argentine actor-singer, Nathy Peluso, overlooked by leering figures in clerical dress.
In a weekend statement, Fr Ferrer said that he believed that the video portrayed “a conversion through human love” for containing the lines “I was an atheist but now I believe, since a miracle like you had to come from heaven.”
The 60-year-old Dean, a former under-secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said that its “provocative visual language” should be accepted by the Church as “the language of contemporary culture, which can produce good in those far away”.
The Dean was overruled by the Archbishop of Toledo, Mgr Francisco Cerro Chaves, who said that he had been “completely unaware” of plans to make the video in the cathedral.
“I deeply regret these events, and disapprove of the images recorded in our archdiocese’s primary place of worship,” the Archbishop told Spanish media.
“I humbly and sincerely ask forgiveness from all lay faithful, consecrated persons, and priests, who feel justly wounded by this misuse of a sacred space.”
The video, said to have been inspired by Judgement Day, a painting in Toledo cathedral by the Renaissance artist Juan de Borgoña (1470-1536), includes a naked (but pixelated) Ms Peloso holding C. Tangana’s severed head — although this part of the video was not shot in the cathedral.
Speaking on Tuesday, Fr Ferrer said that he stood by his earlier explanation for allowing the video, but accepted that there had been “communication failures” caused by the absence of cathedral supervisors during the filming, and that future “out-of-the-ordinary types of act” should require the archdiocese’s approval.
The Archbishop said that penitential masses would be held in Toledo as “an invitation to conversion, reparation for sins, and purification” after the incident, which was the subject of a protest at an open-air recitation of the rosary on Sunday.
Christian churches have been used previously, often without permission, as video settings. In February 2012, members of the Russian feminist group Pussy Riot were given prison sentences for staging a performance inside the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, in Moscow (News, 27 April).
In January 2017, St Jozef’s, in the Dutch city of Tilburg, was closed and re-sanctified after its confessional corner was used for a hardcore porn film.