A Catholic priest has been suspended by his diocese in the Philippines after delivering a Christmas Eve mass while standing on a hoverboard. Video footage shows Father Albert San Jose riding among parishioners at his church in Laguna singing Christmas songs and offering blessings.
His audience appeared delighted by the festive mass, applauding Father Albert and patting him on the back as he travels through the church greeting arrivals. In turn the priest travels up and down the aisles on his hoverboard, making sure to welcome every visitor to the mass.
While footage of the episode has proven incredibly popular online, the diocese of San Pablo in the Philippines failed to see the funny side. They also accused the priest of attention seeking during an event that "demands utmost respect and reverence".
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the diocese said: "Last December 24, 2015, before the final blessing of the Christmas Eve mass, as a way of greeting his parishioners, the priest sang a Christmas song, while going around the nave standing on a hoverboard. That was wrong."
"The Eucharist demands utmost respect and reverence. It is the Memorial of the Lord's Sacrifice. It is the source and summit of Christian life. It is the Church's highest form of worship. Consequently, it is not a personal celebration where one can capriciously introduce something to get the attention of the people," the statement added.
The diocese said that suspending Father Albert had served as a wake-up call, adding that the priest had promised never to ride a hoverboard in church again and "would like to apologize for what happened". The diocese added that Father Albert would be spending some time out of the parish to reflect upon the incident.
The suspension sparked debate among members of the parish on its Facebook page. One commenter calling himself Brian Hughes suggested the Catholic Church needs to lighten up if it is ever to attract young followers. Helena Horwath disagreed however, saying a suspension was the right approach as it allows Father Albert to "rejuvenate" his faith away from the public eye.