Skateboard-hating priest suspended

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has placed Msgr Geoff Baron on leave pending an enquiry into an incident in which the Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral swore at skateboarders in front of the cathedral.

"Clearly I have a situation here that I need to look at closely," Archbishop Denis Hart said according to a report in The Age.

"I think it is important for me to thoroughly consider the circumstances and background of these events and ensure I have all pertinent facts - so that I can determine those steps I wish to take."

Archbishop Hart said he has known the priest Geoff Baron for 46 years.

"I am deeply troubled by the incidents at St Patricks Cathedral."

"For the time being, I want to relieve the Dean of the pressures and responsibilities he carries as Dean of the Cathedral.

"Accordingly, I have granted him a period of leave from his position and responsibilities as Dean."

Archbishop Hart said security at the cathedral would be upgraded.

"Whilst it is my desire to keep open the grounds of the Cathedral as much as possible, so that they be a place of rest and quiet contemplation, I am regretfully taking immediate steps to bring security arrangements for the grounds of the cathedral to the level needed."

Yesterday, Msgr Baron said he had "snapped" and regretted it.

"The shame that I feel and the embarrassment, I can't really describe," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

"It was outrageous behaviour, I let myself down terribly badly, that's quite clear and I've also brought scandal and shock to other people."

He said he had been provoked when the teenagers, who were skating on the cathedral steps, called him a paedophile.

However, Msgr Baron said he would not apologise to the teenagers he abused.

"I have the impression that that particular gang of skateboarders, they take a particular delight and joy in reducing people to grovelling measures as I was, that's their goal, that's their aim."

Meanwhile, new Victorian premier said he had seen a transcript of Msgr Baron's comments and believed they were "totally unacceptable".

"I think the monsignor has also appreciated that what he said was inexcusable and it was unacceptable and he's apologised unreservedly for that," Mr Brumby told reporters.

Swearing priest admits sins (The Age, 31/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
"Priest kickout" - Youtube (video removed)
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne | St Patrick's Cathedral

Cathedral security upgrades amid skater payback fears (CathNews, 31/7/07)
Priest succumbs to skateboarder taunts CathNews, 30/7/07)

1 Aug 2007