Dutch priest suspended for forgetting mass

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Roman Catholic authorities in the Netherlands have suspended a priest for a year after he forgot to say all the words of the Eucharist during mass, the Utrecht archbishopric said on Tuesday.

"The priest didn't speak all the words during the consecration of the bread and wine, which renders them and the communion that follows invalid," said Mr Hans Zuijdwijk, a spokesman for Cardinal-Archbishop Wim Eijk of central city Utrecht.

"This is the most important sacrament and the faithful who came for communion were not able to do so," Mr Zuijdwijk told AFP.

The unnamed priest, 64, lapsed while celebrating mass in the Saint Johannes de Doper (St John the Baptist) parish outside Utrecht.

Among other things, he forgot to say the words necessary to transform the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, as required by Catholic tradition: "This is my body which is for you."

"So the cardinal decided to suspend the priest, who will not be able to celebrate mass for a year," the spokesman said.

The priest himself went to Church authorities and confessed his omission.

He had hoped for a "less severe" punishment, but understood the archbishop's decision, Mr Zuijdwijk said.