Thursday, November 15, 2012

When Priests Attack

When Jesus told his disciples to love their neighbors I'm pretty sure he was talking about the diametric opposite of this. Last weekend two elderly Australian priests living in the same building complex got into a fight over a parking space. In a scene one would usually expect to see in B-movie involving demonic possession or something, the altercation ended with one of them biting off the other's ear.

Father Thomas Byrne, 80, battled 81-year-old Father Thomas Joseph Smith in their building complex yesterday in Perth, Australia, police say. After the fight, Byrne told Smith to pick something up off the ground; only when he got home did Smith realize it was his ear. So he wrapped it in a towel and rushed to a hospital for surgery.

When the two showed up in court, Byrne was sporting a black eye and Smith his newly reattached ear. A judge charged Byrne with grievous bodily harm and imposed tough bail restrictions: no going within 30 feet of Father Smith, no threatening him, and no communicating in any way.

I suppose it's a good thing that Byrne was polite enough to remind his adversary to take his severed ear with him. Perhaps he has his spiritual practice to thank for this, as I imagine it would be difficult for most people to act with even marginal grace after a fit of ear-biting anger. At the same time, wouldn't it have been infinitely better still if he hadn't bitten it off in the first place?

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Peregrin said...

I used to drive a portable library to that housing complex (and other retired priests communal homes). Don't think I met any of these guys, but the place always felt like it was a powder keg. Retired priests living together in their gaunt rooms, bare of human indulgence and fun... made me shiver.

The rest of Perth is good though, ears and all :) Thanks.

Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

You cannot make this type of stuff up--the real world is always weirder and more exciting than fiction.

Unknown said...

Thats how we roll in the Catholic Church!
P-Town represent!