In a neighborhood in the city of Malaga, on Spain's Mediterranean shore, a Catholic priest made a splash by performing a traditional flamenco dance during a Mass in the parish church of Nuestra Senora del Carmen. In the Campanillas parish, Father Jose 'Pepe' Planas Morenos dances the sevillana and rumba with attractive women dancers in the center aisle at the front of the church as a pleased congregation clapped appreciatively.
The 66-yearold cleric performed with enthusiasm and verve while his terpsichorean moves were captured on video and displayed on YouTube.
One female congregant, interviewed by local media, said approvingly "We dance and sing in church. People are having a good time." A elderly woman described the Flamenco Priest's' moves, saying "He lifts up his cassock and starts to dance. He's a charmer."
Women appear to be especially approving of Father Pepe's dancing and queue up to join him. To the rhythm of clapping, drums, castanets and strumming flamenco guitars, some women appear to give thanks to God by gesturing heavenward for the opportunity to perform their skills with the dancing priest.
Father Pepe will retire in September 2014. Proud of his Andalucian and Roma Gypsy roots, he once performed for the late Pope John Paul II. He told Spanish daily Diario del Sur, "Something happens when I dance," while explaining flamenco is in his blood. "I love it. It brings me closer to God," he told the local Malaga newspaper.
He was also among the more than 3,000 Roma Gypsies who danced to celebrate the beatification of the first saint of Romany heritage recognized by the Catholic Church. Ceferino Gimenez Mallo, was a Spaniard shot by a leftist execution squad during Spain's Civil War for defending a priest. Saint Ceferino was also a defender of the rights of the Romany people and is now considered their patron.