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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/27/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Father celebrates mass to a packed congregation with long lines outside his church

Jose Planas Moreno, known as "Father Pepe," has revived interest in his church in Malaga, Spain. The priest has brought parishioners flocking back to the Nuestra Seņora Del Carmen church in Campanilla, a district of Malaga, with his unusual style of worship. He always adds a bit of flamenco dancing to his Sunday services!

Father Pepe danced in front of the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1997. He says w he will retire this coming September.

Father Pepe danced in front of the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1997. He says w he will retire this coming September.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/27/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Spain, flamenco, dancing, video, Father Pepe


LOS ANGLES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Spanish Catholic Church has struggled with falling attendance. The 66-year-old Father Pepe delights the faithful by dancing the sevillanas, a traditional dance linked to flamenco in the aisle of his church during mass.

Women devout leap from their pews to take a turn dancing with Father Pepe as he hitches up his white cassock, raises his arms above his head and kicks his heels.

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Videos, uploaded on various video streaming Web sites, show a recent mass taken on the local feast day. The video has gone viral on social networks and spread Father Pepe's fame far beyond his parish.

"Something happens when I dance," Father Pepe says, who explained that flamenco is in his blood because his mother was a gypsy.

"I love it. It brings me closer to God," he told Diario Sur, the local newspaper.

Father Pepe danced in front of the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1997. He says he will retire this coming September.

Pepe was among 3,000 or so gypsies who broke into dance to celebrate the beatification of the first Romany saint, Ceferino Gimenez Mallo, a Spaniard shot by a leftist execution squad during Spain's Civil War for defending a priest.

Spain has long been a Roman Catholic stronghold. Church attendance there has plummeted in recent years. There's been a sharp fall in the number of those choosing to become clerics. Half the nation's parishes are bereft of priests.

A recent survey showed only 72 percent of Spaniards defined themselves as Catholic, a drop of eight per cent in a decade.

The survey also found that those who said that they never went to church rose from 7.5 per cent in 2002 to 48.6 per cent in 2012.

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