UnNews:Skateboarding priest on leave

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1 August 2007

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A file photograph of the Reverend Monsignor Geoff Baron perfroming an intricate maneuver.

CANBERRA, Australia (Reuters) -- A Roman Catholic priest who unleashed a torrent of expletives and racist abuse against fellow skateboarders outside his Australian cathedral, only to have it all filmed and placed on YouTube, has been put on leave to learn some basic skateboarding tricks such as the ollie and the pop-shovit.

The Reverend Monsignor Geoff Baron, the dean of St Patrick's Cathedral in Australia's second biggest city, Melbourne, was videotaped swearing at and abusing a group of skateboarding teenagers using the cathedral grounds as a skate park.

Benozzo Gozzoli 004a

Skateboarding has always been important to the Roman Catholic Church. Here Saint Thomas Illegible gives a few words of advice to a skateboarder who "bailed" and fell on his ass.

"Move, you fucking fool," Baron tells one skater in the video, smashing one of the group across the head with his skateboard and prompting a torrent of abuse in reply.

Pointing to a skater lying unconscious on the ground, Baron is heard telling the youth "Little foreigner there, look at the sleepy eyes, black hair, tried to out-skate me, how did he fare?" in a "lame" attempt to emulate the hip-hop rapping conversational style of his fellow skateboarders.

"At least he's got hair. You fucking bald prick," one youth replies more prosaically. Others spat on and shoved the furious priest.

The "totally embarrassed" Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, placed Baron on indefinite leave after his pathetic attempts at skateboarding (and the outburst) appeared on YouTube, while security guards began patrolling the cathedral grounds on Wednesday amid threats of reprisal attacks.

"I want to relieve the dean of the pressures and responsibilities he carries as dean of the cathedral," Hart said, "And give him the time and space to perfect his skateboarding technique" Hart promised that the Dean would return "wearing his pants properly around his knees" and with an "awesome" repertoire of tricks such as the varial-kickflip and frontside lipslide. He also apologized for the Dean's limited vocabulary. "He will be taught a wider range of expletives and some more sophisticated insults," Hart committed.

Baron apologized for the poor skating performance on Tuesday, but on radio described the skaters as "noobs, jackals and hyenas" who had provoked him with allegations he was a neophyte skater. "They also called me a pedophile" he conceded, "but that is fair enough, and even possibly true."

"It was outrageous behavior. I let myself down terribly badly, quite clearly, and I've also brought scandal and shock to the church with my pathetic skating," he told local radio.

The video clip of his "lame" skateboarding performance, which was filmed a year ago but only recently posted on YouTube was viewed tens of thousands of times.

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