Florida priest may face battery charges after BITING woman in wild fight during Communion

Florida priest got into a heated confrontation with a woman during Communion Sunday, biting her in the process in what he claimed was an effort to protect the sacrament, and was arrested for it.

Father Fidel Rodriguez, a parochial vicar, admitted that he bit the woman during Mass at the St. Thomas Aquinas Church in St. Cloud, but that’s where the two stories diverge, according to WFTV.

According to the New York Post, the unidentified woman told the police that she attempted to receive the bread wafer during Communion but the priest rejected her.

“He wouldn’t give me the cookie,” she claimed on bodycam footage that was obtained by WFTV. “I don’t know if it was the way I was dressed, or it is what I like.”

(Video Credit: WFTV Channel 9)

A witness named Santibanez, who claimed she saw the scuffle, told police that the woman was rebuffed by the priest because of her sexuality and how she was dressed.

“He tried to forcefully shove it in her mouth, she backed up,” the witness charged, according to WFTV. “She said, ‘No, don’t do that,’ and she tried to get it, and that is when he went crazy.”

Father Rodriguez asserted that was not the truth. He claimed it had nothing to do with her background or attire, saying on the bodycam footage, “I don’t judge nobody.”

His version of the story contends that the woman tried to grab the Communion wafer from his hand. He went on to clarify that the woman attended the 10 a.m. service. She was denied Communion because she did not understand the process according to the priest.

“The religious leader said that she later came again and explained that she had in fact done the necessary steps and is now accepted by God,” the Daily Mail reported.

“When she came back for the noon Mass, the two squared off, with the confrontation caught on tape and obtained by the station. The details are unclear because another person waiting to receive the sacrament blocked a portion of the incident,” the New York Post recounted.

“I gave her the benefit of the doubt. ‘Did you confess between the Mass before and this?’ Because she can do it,” the priest said.

“No, I don’t need to explain to you. I don’t need to have an explanation. You don’t have authority to judge me,” she responded.

“I am not judging you. I am asking you: Did you confess after Mass? If you did not confess, I cannot give you Communion,” the priest told police following the incident. “I bit her, I am not denying that. I am defending myself and the sacrament.”

The Catholic Diocese of Orlando posted a statement online in defense of Father Rodriguez.

“The woman forcefully placed her hand in the vessel and grabbed some sacred Communion hosts, crushing them,” the statement claimed. “Having only one hand free, Father Rodriguez struggled to restrain the woman as she refused to let go of the hosts.”

The diocese also stated that the priest knew nothing about the woman.

“When the woman pushed him and reacting to a perceived act of aggression, Father Rodriguez bit her hand so she would let go of the hosts she grabbed. The woman was immediately asked to leave. Further, while the Diocese of Orlando does not condone physical altercations such as this, in good faith, Father Rodriguez was simply attempting to prevent an act of desecration of the Holy Communion, which, as a priest, Father Rodriguez is bound by duty to protect,” the diocese further commented.

St. Cloud police recommended charges of battery against the priest.


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