RELIGION

Spanish Flamenco Priest Father Pepe Throws It Down In The Church Aisles (VIDEO)

07/28/2014 01:27 pm ET | Updated Jul 28, 2014

Father José Planas Moreno has a very unusual way of getting people into church- he dances them in!

The 68-year-old priest from the Spanish city of Malaga loves to dance sevillanas, a dance rooted in flamenco, often coming down from the pulpit to snap his fingers and stamp his feet with his parishioners, according to The Telegraph. They call him Father Pepe.

“They say if you pray singing it's worth two prayers, so if you pray while dancing it must be worth three,” he said to local daily paper Diario Sur, according to The Local. He added that dancing was "in his blood," due to his mother's Roma heritage.

Though Father Pepe now delights his congregation with his moves, he once danced before a pope. On May 4, 1997, Ceferino Jimenez Malla became the first Roma to be beatified by the Catholic Church, according to The New York Times. An estimated 3,000 Roma people attended the ceremony in the Vatican, with some dancing before Pope John Paul II as part of a program to honor Jimenez Malla, also known as El Pele.

Though 68% of Spaniards identify themselves as Catholic, only 13% of them attend weekly mass, according to a 2014 government poll.

Father Pepe's exciting and joyful worship style keeps the pews full in his parish. Videos show him hitching up his robes and dancing with female members of his congregation. "Something happens when I dance," he told Diaro Sur. "I love it. It brings me closer to God."

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