A Priest Under Fire
What’s in a costume?
Around the world, various holidays/special events ask or require its patrons to don a costume or fancy dress and parade around as someone else for a day, night, or entire week. While most of us over here in the U.S. are familiar with Halloween, the dominant annual dress-up party in other parts of the world is Carnival, the massive celebration that takes place before the start of Lent.
When you think of Carnival, you might picture beautiful women dressed up in minimal clothing and covered in lush feathers and beads or crowds of people dancing along the beach in Brazil or Spain. Maybe you picture the elaborate masks and costumed balls of Venice or the drunken crowds in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Whatever image you conjure, Carnival makes Halloween pale in comparison, and it’s a celebration that everybody gets involved with.
Unfortunately for one priest, his costume wasn’t well received by his superiors in the Church.
Like many holidays, the origins of today’s Carnival come from the Church. In preparation for the season of Lent, this was the time of year when many people (especially from lower classes) would have their last chance to eat well before giving up meat until Easter. As one of the first big celebrations of the year, it was also a season to celebrate moving from the darkness of winter into the light of spring.
Over time, Carnival became a symbol of indulgence in earthly and bodily pleasures, a time when people could abandon social norms and dress up to hide their identities while celebrating amongst the massive crowds.
Joining in the Celebrations
One of the best things about Carnival in the countries that celebrate it is that the entire community can get involved. Young children and older folks alike are allowed to let loose, cook up traditional foods, plan their best costumes, and join in the party.
In the small town of Cuntis, located in the Spanish community of Galicia, everybody was preparing for the annual Carnival parade, including local priest Juan Carlos Martínez. The 40-year-old was a devoted member not only of the Church but of the town as a whole. But by the time the festivities had ended, he was left apologizing from the pulpit for his costume.
As the local father, it only made sense for the priest to dress up in a paternal role for Carnival. But he turned into a real Don Juan when he decided to go as Hugh Hefner, the founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy.
Sure, that costume alone may not be all that bad, what with a captain’s hat and silky robe. But the real controversy came from the priest’s company: two local men dressed as skimpy Playboy bunnies. It certainly didn’t help when one of the bunnies jumped on top of the priest to perform a lap dance.
Crossdressing for Carnival is nothing new in Spain, in fact, even young children will don risqué and revealing costumes, all in good fun of course. Unfortunately for Juan Carlos, his decision to parade around town with two brawny bunnies didn’t sit well with his superiors. Here’s what the archbishop had to say…