A white priest who was originally under fire for his actions against mourning Black friends and family has been put on leave.
The Washington Post reports that Rev. Michael Briese was given the inadequate punishment on Tuesday (July 3) while the archdiocese investigates what it claims is being called a "serious misunderstanding" by church officials.
Family and friends of a beloved church goer were sickened when a white priest forced them to leave a funeral while it was in session because someone accidentally knocked over a chalice.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people attended the funeral of Agnes Hicks at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Maryland. While family members were greeting and hugging the attendees, someone accidentally knocked over the church’s sacred golden cup, reported FOX 5.
This sent Pastor Michael Briese into a fit of rage, which was all captured by someone’s cellphone.
“That's when all hell broke loose. He literally got on the mic and said, ‘There will be no funeral, there will be no mass, no repass, everyone get the hell out of my church,’" Shanice Chisely, daughter of Agnes Hicks, told FOX 5. “He disrespected our family, he disrespected my mother. He called my mother 'a thing.' He said, 'Get this thing out of my church! Everyone get the hell out of my church!’ It was very sad. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Moments later, the family carried Agnes’ casket out to the parking lot, where police were waiting after Briese called 911.
“Bad enough we had to bury our own mother yesterday but for you to say she’s a 'thing’ and there will be no funeral. You're not a preacher. You’re not a pastor. You’re not a father of the Lord. You’re not any of that. You’re the devil,” Renetta Baker, daughter of Agnes Hicks, told the local news station.
When officers arrived on the scene, they determined the family had done nothing wrong and escorted them to a funeral home in a different county.
“This was uncalled for and it really hurt me. It really did. To see your loved one come there to rest and to be shut down like that,” Larry Hicks, brother of Agnes Hicks, told FOX 5.
The family said Agnes Hicks was baptized as a young girl at the church in Charles County, and it's where she had always wanted her funeral.
After video of the incident went viral, the Archdiocese of Washington has issued an apology to the family.
"What occurred at St. Mary’s Parish this morning does not reflect the Catholic Church’s fundamental calling to respect and uplift the God-given dignity of every person nor does that incident represent the pastoral approach the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington commit to undertake every day in their ministry."