Thieving Priest Is No Saint

When spiritual riches isn’t enough:

A Roman Catholic priest in central Pennsylvania will serve 11½ to 23 months behind bars for stealing more than $380,000 from his parish.


Authorities say 52-year-old former pastor Caesar Belchez transferred more than $190,000 from various accounts at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Bonneauville to an online stock account and more than $120,000 to a personal account.

Belchez is accused of taking the money between 2006 and 2011 while he was pastor at Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Bonneauville.

Christ Almighty: Catholic Children Throw Molotov Cocktails at Protestant Minority in Derry City

The Troubles may be coming back in Northern Ireland.

Kevin Campbell, the mayor of Derry City, told a local news team that

dissident (Catholic) republicans were manipulating mobs of up to 50 children and having them throw dozens of petrol bombs at the minority Protestant community after the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher last week.

The Protestant enclave, the Fountain Estate, consists of 400 families surrounded by a two-to-three mile security barrier in the mainly Catholic west of the city.

Mr Campbell said the attacks on the estate were “absolutely disgraceful”. He added: “There must be a sinister element involved when 25 petrol bombs are thrown — children aged nine to 15 would not know how to make petrol bombs.”


Resident William Jackson said petrol bombs have been coming within 2-3 feet of his house. “After seven nights of mayhem we have seen only one arrest,” he said. “We feel under siege 24 hours a day. … They call us Orange Huns and say things like, ‘We are going to burn you out’. I get phone calls at 2-3am saying they are going to burn me out, shoot me in the head and watch my family cry. They are not going to be happy until we are out. It is ethnic cleansing, just sectarian thuggery.”

The “Orange Huns” moniker refers to a battle the Protestants fought alongside Dutch Prince William of Orange against Catholic English king James II — in 1690.

In matters of politics and religion, grudges may hibernate, but they rarely die.

[art by Bansky via UK Street Art]

Gay Teacher Fired Over Partner’s Name in Obit

Teachers at Catholic institutions in Ohio may be fired for “immorality.” Sounds all right, until it comes to the definition of that word.

Actually, recognizing disgusting behavior isn’t a problem at all for the easily piqued religious authorities who terminated Carla Hale. Hale is a physical-education teacher who lost her job when her mom died and she included her female partner’s name in the obit.

She’s taught at the school for two decades.

Now, I agree that’s a great example of immorality. But whose? Hales’, or the Church’s?

Students and others are rallying behind a teacher who they say was fired from a Catholic school in Clintonville [Ohio] after listing her female partner’s name in her mother’s obituary.


A petition posted yesterday on seeks the reinstatement of Bishop Watterson High School physical-education teacher Carla Hale. It has gained more than 4,000 signatures.

“It’s unfair that someone who cared so much about her students and her job should lose them on the basis of something she cannot even control,” the petition says. “The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale.”

[image via outlook columbus]

Priests’ Parking Brawl: One Bites Off Other’s Ear

I’ve known some clergymen who can chew your ear off, but here’s one who does it literally. And all it took for Father Thomas Byrne to go all Mike Tyson on a colleague was a contested parking space.

An 80-year-old retired priest allegedly bit an ear off another elderly clergyman during a fight over a parking space. The punch-up broke out outside an apartment block, which houses three retired Catholic priests, in Perth, Western Australia.


Father Thomas Henry Byrne [photo, left] has appeared in court charged with grievous bodily harm over the incident involving his neighbour, 81-year-old Father Thomas Joseph Cameron Smith.

If that’s not bizarre enough for you, try this on for size:

According to police, after the brawl Father Byrne told Father Smith to pick up an item up on the ground. It was not until Father Smith returned to his flat that he realised the item he had picked up and put in his pocket was his right ear. Father Smith wrapped his ear in a tea towel and drove to Dianella Medical Centre, where staff phoned for an ambulance and alerted police. He was taken to Perth’s Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where he underwent surgery to save the ear.

Father Byrne eventually extended his apologies, while Father Smith offered forgiveness.

The ear-biter’s attorney used a temporary-insanity defense, telling the court that his client is a kindly old man whose flesh-ripping attack was “uncharacteristic” and brought on by dementia. The prosecutor downgraded the charges and the judge imposed only a $1,000 fine.

Extraordinary Claims, Extraordinary Evidence?

The Eclectic Quill‘s got a point.

2U.S. Government Responses to Immortality Claims | The Eclectic Quill

Church Hires Dick-Biting Priest Who is a Known Ex-Con: Shocked When He Does It Again

For a non-believer, it’s hard to see evidence of God’s hand in anything from angel-shaped clouds to eyeball-eating parasites.

But it’s easy to believe in the magic that the Catholic Church habitually produces when it slaps a priest’s white collar on a convicted sex offender. In such a case, in a manner of seconds, a scum-of-the-earth child molester is transformed into a divinely inspired authority on right and wrong. It truly is miraculous to behold.

Via the Los Angeles Times:

When the Rev. John Anthony Salazar arrived in Tulia, Texas, in 1991, he was warmly welcomed by the Roman Catholic community tucked in the Texas Panhandle. What his new parishioners didn’t know was he’d been hired out of a treatment program for pedophile priests — and that he’d been convicted for child molestation and banned from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for life.

The priest turned out to be your typical recidivist.

Over the next 11 years, Salazar would be accused of abusing four more children and young men in Texas, including an 18-year-old parishioner who suffered teeth marks on his genitals.


None of it should have been surprising. In 1987, Salazar had pleaded guilty to one count of oral copulation and one count of lewd or lascivious acts with a child for molesting two altar boys, ages 13 and 14.

He served three years of a six-year prison term before being sent in 1990 to a residential program in New Mexico that treated pedophile priests. He was also required to register as a sex offender.

One year later, the Diocese of Amarillo hired Salazar and assigned him to a vast, rural parish in the Panhandle while he was still on parole.

The bishop of the Catholic diocese, Leroy Matthiesen of Amarillo, seemed mildly offended when L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony warned him in writing about the pedophile priest.

“You must think I don’t screen applicants well. I assure you I do, and that I have rejected a number of them,” Matthiesen wrote Mahony in a Jan. 28, 1992, letter contained in Salazar’s archdiocese file. “The Diocese of Amarillo has 38 parish priests and 38,000 registered Catholics. … I am able to keep careful tabs on all our priests.”

The self-regard is staggering. Four fresh Texas victims would soon experience how scrupulous Matthiesen was in “keeping tabs” on Father Salazar.

Matthiesen died in 2010, but in an autobiography he defended his decision to hire molesting priests from the aftercare program, saying they had “repented, paid the price, were rehabilitated, stayed within the boundaries laid out for them.” … “These are the types of priests I accepted into the diocese,” he wrote. “I have no regrets for having done so.”

Although the good bishop was thoroughly informed of Salazar’s background, neither he nor any of his colleagues ever bothered to tell the priest’s parishioners who they were dealing with.

The Church, as has so often been the case, considered itself exempt from the reporting requirements regarding sex offenders, and claims the privilege of dealing with all manner of crimes internally.

No secular justice system can compel it; no accountability is in evidence; and no future victim’s mental and bodily integrity is important enough to change any of it.

Irish Catholic Madrassas Skimp on Science and PE

The curriculum in Irish schools suggests that educators and the government agree on at least one thing: “Science bad, religion good.”

Elementary-school teachers in Ireland spend double the time on religious instruction that is the global average. (That comparison presumably includes hardcore Islamic madrassas in places like Somalia and Pakistan).

Amazingly enough, that’s mostly the result of Department of Education guidelines that say children must receive 30 minutes of religious instruction a day — two and a half hours a week. Then add church and Sunday school on the weekends, natch.

Even so, more than two-thirds of Irish teachers apparently don’t find that nearly enough, and spend additional minutes or hours on religion, at the expense of science and physical education.


Now, one saner mind is questioning the imbalance.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has questioned the amount of time spent teaching children religion in primary schools at the expense of science and physical education (PE). Department of Education rules require primary schools to devote 30 minutes a day – two-and- a-half-hours a week – to religion, compared with 60 minutes a week for science and PE. A recent Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) survey found over 70 percent of teachers were spending more than the required time on religion. The extra time usually goes on preparing children for sacraments such as First Communion and Confirmation.

Irish primary pupils spend 4 percent of their time on science – half the international average – and 10 percent on religion, more than double the global norm.

[image via coastreflect]

Sister Agnes of Vienna Orgasmed While Dining on the Savior’s Foreskin; a Saint to Many

[Corrected  below]

I hope that some Vatican committee is planning to commemorate, preferably in grand fashion, the upcoming septuacentennial of Saint Agnes Blannbekin’s death.

Frankly, it’s not her death that was exceptional; she died of old age in her convent in Vienna, at 71.

However, her life as a thirteenth-century Bride of Christ — a nun — was nothing short of spectacular. You see, for decades, Agnes had lively hallucinations of being visited by Jesus or another member of the Holy Trinity. Any of these cherished guests inflamed her womanly passions in the most delightful way.

Luckily for us, Agnes’ visions were enthusiastically transcribed by her confessor, the Franciscan monk Ermenrich, and it is from his notes that we can see why Catholics became so smitten with her. Talk about loving Jesus!

In one recurring vision, Agnes felt the foreskin of the Savior in her mouth.


Crying and with compassion, she began to think about the foreskin of Christ, where it may be located [after the Resurrection]. And behold, soon she felt with the greatest sweetness on her tongue a little piece of skin alike the skin in an egg, which she swallowed. After she had swallowed it, she again felt the little skin on her tongue with sweetness as before, and again she swallowed it. And this happened to her about a hundred times. And when she felt it so frequently, she was tempted to touch it with her finger. And when she wanted to do so, that little skin went down her throat on its own. And it was told to her that the foreskin was resurrected with the Lord on the day of resurrection. And so great was the sweetness of tasting that little skin that she felt in all [her] limbs and parts of the limbs a sweet transformation.

If Sister Agnes got thirsty, a “refreshing spiritual drink” from the spear wound of Jesus was just a vision away. Many of her hallucinations involved her delicate sense of touch; other than feeling the Holy Prepuce on her tongue, she also claimed she could sometimes sense being kissed on the cheeks by the Lamb of God.

But nothing beat the visitations from the Lord (or the Lord Jesus). Ermenrich must have been fanning himself when he scribbled what the nun told him:

Agnes was filled with an excitement in her chest every time that God visited her that was so intense that it went through her body and that it burned as a result, not in a painful but in a most pleasurable manner.

Hawt, right?

Now, I know the Catholic Church has a reputation as an irredeemably misogynistic institution, but that could change if the padres play their cards right. What they ought to do is market the hell out of the Saint Agnes septuacentennial, such that, with any luck, spinsters and dissatisfied housewives all over the world will want to join the faith, sighing, “I’ll have what she’s having.”


CORRECTION: The original headline on this post stated that Sister Agnes had been canonized (made a saint) by the Church. Although there are many online and printed references to her as “Saint Agnes,” it’s been brought to my attention that throngs of believers have often proclaimed their own Saints (who could become very popular) without the Vatican’s sign-off.  This was most likely the case with Agnes Blannekin.

As is pointed out on the “Holy Prepuce” Wikipedia page I linked to right after the first quote, the Roman Catholic Church got so sick of (and embarrassed by) all the theological snipping sniping over which of Christ’s many foreskins was the genuine article, that it ruled in 1900 that

anyone thenceforward writing or speaking of the Holy Prepuce would be excommunicated. In 1954, after much debate, the punishment was changed to the harsher degree of excommunication, vitandi (shunned).

I have to concede — with apologies for my earlier error — that it seems unlikely that the Catholic Church will commemorate the Viennese foreskin-muncher any time soon. A terrible pity, that.

[illustration by Milo Manara via the Holy Prepuce]

Pedos For God

It’s a sad state of affairs when you run a site like this one, and have to decide you’re just going to pretty much stop covering child abuse by clergy … because there’s too much of it. No joke: every day I see news articles about yet another child-molesting pastor or priest. Not one case per day, or two, but half a dozen or more.

And those are just the ones that

• involve a victim (or others familiar with the abuse) who went to the police; and
• involve an arrest and a charge, and
• get reported in the press, and
• somehow make it into my news stream.

No one knows how many holy-men childfuckers have never been found out. It must be a staggering number.

I feel a bit sick, and a bit guilty, just realizing that the volume of new sex-abuse offenses by clergy is such that I worry about Moral Compass getting depressing and repetitive if I try to chronicle it all. No child deserves to be willfully confused, spiritually deceived, and sexually accosted by pedos. Extra scorn and disgust is due those who do this while brandishing the title of priest of pastor or imam or rabbi, and thus claiming to be authorities on what god wants.

If you only see sporadic stories on Moral Compass about these hypocrites, please know it’s not because they’re few and far between. It’s because there are too many for me to write about without it destroying the variety of the blog, as well as my belief in the goodness of others.

I sincerely hope that you, and the nameless children whose tormentors won’t be called out on this site, will forgive me.

Eew, Eel! Don’t Tell the Anti-Gay-Marriage Crowd

I’ve frequently heard from rightwing Christians that if we let men marry men, and women marry women, we’ll have to let them marry chickens and dogs too, and soon they’ll all be having butt sex with hippos, or something.

Here’s a cartoon that yuks it up in that regard. Pretty sure I recognize the hand of the reliably dreadful New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas.

Delonas artoon

In this charming worldview, gay people are on a par with molesters of livestock; and the notion of equal rights for all men and women is as preposterous as a sheep wearing a bridal veil.

The idea that this is not an intellectually legitimate way of looking at the issue was only slightly undermined the other day, when a tellingly unmarried 39-year-old man in southern China had relations with an eel. That is, he introduced the eel’s head to his rectum, and there was, let’s say, a love connection. So much so that the eel, perhaps hungry for a post-coital snack, ate through his BFF’s colon, and doctors had to operate. Here’s the story. And via the Huffington Post, here’s a picture of the eel, who, we’re told, didn’t survive the extraction:

FUNNY EELING - Porn stunt With Live Eel Backfires

Please nobody tell Sean Delonas or the Post, or we’ll never hear the end of it.

Thomas More: Inquisitor, Torturer, Killer, Saint

I noted with a mix of fascination and amusement that the fraud-loving priest in my previous post works at a church named for Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century lawyer, statesman, and enforcer of orthodoxy. There are hundreds upon hundreds of Catholic churches that bear More’s name.

Catholics revere Sir Thomas as a martyr because he was beheaded for refusing to say that the authority of King Henry VIII superseded that of the Pope. Even in secular and humanist circles, More is often given a measure of respect, partly for his collaboration with the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus, and partly because of how More is famously portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie A Man For All Seasons.


What neither group ever seems keen to acknowledge is that Sir Thomas was also a man who so abhorred Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation that he burned Lutherans at the stake with great relish. One of More’s motives for hating the Protestant heretics was that they dared to read the New Testament in English rather than Latin, which was against the law in England at the time.

The historian and religious scholar James Wood reminds us that Thomas More, far from being the consummate “man of conscience,” was

…the heretic hunter of the mid-1520s, who personally broke into Lutherans’ homes and sent men to the stake, … [and who] would punish religious dissent not only with “displeasant” words but with state violence.

Hyperbole? Hardly. The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd, one of the more positive More biographies, recounts that when Sir Thomas learned that John Tewkesbury, a London leather-seller, secretly possessed banned books, he had the man burned alive. After the execution, More expressed his satisfaction: “[He] burned as there was neuer wretche I wene better worthy.” More cherished the image of Tewkesbury burning not just on earth, but in hell, “an hote fyrebronde burnynge at hys bakke, that all the water in the worlde wyll neuer be able to quenche.”

Richard Marius, an American scholar of the Reformation and the author of Thomas More, A Biography, concludes that More, notwithstanding his earlier wanderings through humanism, was eager to exterminate Protestants,

and while he was in office he did everything in his power to bring that extermination to pass. That he did not succeed in becoming England’s Torquemada was a consequence of the king’s quarrel with the pope and not a result of any quality of mercy that stirred through More’s own heart.

Per James Wood, here is some of More’s handiwork:

With the help of John Stokesley, the Bishop of London, More personally broke into the houses of suspected heretics, arresting them on the spot and sometimes interrogating them in his own home. He imprisoned one man in the porter’s lodge of his house, and had him put in the stocks. He raided the home of a businessman called John Petyt, who was suspected of financing [protestant Bible translator William] Tyndale; Petyt died in the Tower. Six rebellious Oxford students were kept for months in a fish cellar; three of them died in prison. More was now a spiritual detective, a policeman in a hair shirt, engaged in “what would now be called surveillance and entrapment among the leather-sellers, tailors, fishmongers and drapers of London.” Six protesters were burned under More’s chancellorship, and perhaps forty were imprisoned.

Next time you hear the adjective catholic (small c) used in the sense of ‘shifty,’ ‘evasive,’ ‘disingenuous,’ think of Thomas More, and think of this mind-crushing passage from Wood’s essay:

More attempted to answer the charge of the reformers that it was not Christian for the church to burn heretics. The church did not burn people, replied More; the state burned them. This was strictly true, because the ecclesiastical courts tried heretics and the state courts sentenced them. But More’s language is disingenuous. The church, he writes, would never want to kill anyone. “It is not the clergy that laboreth to have them punished to death.” The “spiritual law” is “good, reasonable, piteous, and charitable, and nothing desiring the death of any therein.” The church asks the heretic to repent; if he does not, the church excommunicates him, at which point “the clergy giveth knowledge to the temporalty, not exhorting the prince, or any man else, either, to kill him or to punish him.” The church does not urge anyone to punish the heretic; it “leaveth him to the secular hand, and forsaketh him.”


To Wood, More was

cruel in punishment, evasive in argument, lusty for power, and repressive in politics. He betrayed Christianity when he led it so violently into court politics, and he betrayed politics when he surrendered it so meekly to the defense of Catholicism.

The British historical biographer Jasper Ridley was even less charitable in his final assessment of Sir Thomas, calling him “a particularly nasty sadomasochistic pervert.”

The Catholic world had four or five centuries to come to its senses about More, but never did. In 1929, the Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton fawned over him in The Fame of Blessed Thomas Moore:

Blessed Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying; but he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years’ time.

The Vatican agreed that More was a man worthy of our highest adulation. In May of 1935, Pope Pius XI officially declared Sir Thomas a saint.

In October of 2000, Pope John Paul II did his part in trying to make Chesterton’s prediction come true. The pontiff wrote in an apostolic letter that More had “served not power but the supreme ideal of justice,” and lauded him for “unfailing moral integrity.”

Pope John Paul then officially declared  Sir Thomas the patron saint of Catholic statesmen and politicians; and as it concerns one thoroughly disreputable group, that is one honor on which His Holiness and I can agree.

[top image via wikimedia; bottom image by Simon_K via flickr]

Priest Created Fake Employee to Pocket Salary

The FBI has taken over a police investigation into the shady financial dealings of the Rev. Edward Belczak, of Thomas More Catholic Church in Troy, Michigan. The 67-year-old priest stands accused of having “mishandled” more than $400,000 in church money. If the current allegations are any guide, “mishandled” is a euphemism for “stolen.”

Edward Belczak

Father Belczak’s many alleged frauds range from taking excess compensation he wasn’t entitled to, to inventing an employee so that he (Belczak) could pocket the ghost worker’s salary.

Full story here.

[photo via the Oakland Press]