A French priest who criticized President Emmanuel Macron during a recent mass could be taken to court for contempt and for failing to respect the separation of church and state after local authorities filed a complaint.
Francis Michel, a priest in the Planquay church in the department of Eure, in Normandy, was filmed on June 2 leading dozens of Yellow Vest supporters in a chant calling the French president a "moron." "We're coming to get you," the crowd sang. "Even if Macron doesn't want us, we're here to fight for workers' honor and for a better world." The chant has been frequently taken up by protesters decrying growing inequalities in the country during the Yellow Vest movement.
The video was shared tens of thousands of times on social media and prompted a quick backlash from local officials.
"Shameful", tweeted Sébastien Lecornu, an official in the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and a former president of the Eure departmental council.
"Stay in your place, father,” tweeted Fabien Gouttefarde, a Eure representative from Macron’s La République en marche.The Eure police prefecture referred the incident to the public prosecutor's office, according to the French daily newspaper Le Parisien.
Michel is a well-known supporter of the Yellow Vest movement. He placed a yellow vest on a statue of a baby Jesus last year and planted crosses at a roundabout in the town of Bernay in memory of the protesters who died in the clashes.
Michel has not been recognized by the church since 2016, when he was suspended after being fined €15,000 for embezzling €100,000 in donations from the congregation, according to the TV channel LCI. He was found guilty in an appeals court.
This story was written by Liselotte Mas.
CORRECTION, JUNE 6, 2019: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the priest, Francis Michel, would be taken to court. In fact, the Eure police prefecture referred to the incident to the public prosecutor's office, which will decide whether to investigate the case.