TOLEDO, Spain (ChurchMilitant.com) - The dean of Toledo Cathedral in Spain has resigned after he permitted the filming of a soft porn music video in the sanctuary and later defended it as "exclusively serving to promote dialogue with contemporary culture."
Fr. Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, dean of Toledo Cathedral, "expresses his request for institutional forgiveness," a press release from Toledo archdiocese announced Tuesday.
Grenesche also apologized on behalf of members of the cathedral chapter, "insofar as they have had responsibility for any errors and faults that may have been committed in word, deed and omission in the events of the last few days."
"The dean, considering that his term of office will end on Nov. 5, has deemed it convenient to request that the archbishop bring forward the conclusion of his term of office to Oct. 16. The archbishop has agreed to accept the request," the statement said.
The steamy video titled "Ateo" (Atheist) features Madrid rapper Antón Álvarez Alfaro, better known as C. Tangana, gyrating with Barcelona-based Argentine singer Natalia (Nathy) Peluso in Toledo's 13th-century cathedral.
"I want to make religion to your hair, your mouth and your face. And may the Virgen de la Almudena forgive me the things I do in your bed," the singers croon against the backdrop of sacred icons in the gothic cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo.
In the video, a partially pixelated nude Peluso is seen holding Tangana's severed head. Tangana is shown yanking Peluso's hair, echoing a painting in the cathedral that shows a demon pulling a woman's hair to stop her from reaching salvation.
C. Tangana paid 15,000 euros for the use of the cathedral for his music video, local media reported.
Two priests from Toledo archdiocese told Church Militant that Grenesche, who has a doctorate from Rome's Pontifical Athenaeum of Saint Anselm and a diploma in Sacred Art from Rome's Beato Angelico Institute, was genuinely contrite and had admitted to making a "grave error of judgment."
"Fr. Grenesche is a good man who would help the Institute of Christ the King with celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass. However, he did not oversee this well. He made a statement that he wasn't very intelligent, and so he resigned," one of the priests said.
A lay Catholic academic and long-term friend of the dean said he was shocked by the news as this seemed completely out of character with Grenesche, who "has always [celebrated] traditional liturgies, including the Latin Mass."
The archdiocesan chancery said Abp. Francisco Cerro Chaves "held a cordial meeting with the dean" just before his termination was announced.
"The dean expressed his full communion with the archbishop and the diocesan Church," the chancery asserted.
Toledo Cathedral offers Holy Mass in the Mozarabic rite and is said to be the birthplace of the liturgy.
Outraged Catholics organized an "act of reparation" on Sunday evening with around 30 laity and a priest holding candles outside the cathedral and singing hymns.
Archbishop Chaves said there would also be an "invitation to conversion and an act of reparation for sins and purification" in the light of "recent events" during a "special penitential act of the Mass" on Sunday as the archdiocese began its Synod of Bishops.
Earlier the dean justified the video on the grounds that it "presents the story of a conversion through human love" even though it "uses provocative visual language."
"It is a language typical of the culture of our time, and the good that it can produce in those far away has been attended to," he maintained, arguing that the song's refrain was about conversion: "I was an atheist, but now I believe because a miracle like you had to come down from Heaven."
Fr. Grenesche later explained that "communication failures" complicated the matter, and he did not regret his earlier statement justifying the filming of the video.
The dean also acknowledged there were no representatives of the cathedral during the recordings to vet what was going on and spot problems in the film that would "cause scandal to some people" and that this lack of oversight "was a failure."
In a press release published Friday, Abp. Chaves said he "deeply regrets these events and disapproves of the images recorded in the first church of the archdiocese," Church Militant reported.
"We humbly and sincerely ask for forgiveness to all the lay faithful, consecrated persons and priests who have felt justly hurt by this improper use of a sacred place," apologized Chaves, who earned his doctorate in spiritual theology from Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.
The archbishop assured he would review procedures "to prevent something similar from happening again" and would draft "a protocol for the recording of images for public dissemination in any church in the archdiocese."