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Priest Punched In Face By Burglar: "I Forgive Him"

CHICAGO (CBS)--A priest who was punched in the face Friday night by a burglar who entered his South Side church said he forgives the man, who has yet to be caught.

Talking with CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot, Father Matthew Compton recounted running into the burglar on the upstairs floor of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, at 81st and California.

The suspect, who police say was working in a group, entered the church around 11:30 p.m. and made off with a television, a laptop and a printer.

All the doors were locked and the alarm system was armed when he broke in by pushing an air conditioning unit out onto the ground and entering through a first-floor window.

When the burglar went upstairs, he ran into the priest in the hallway.

"I asked 'who are you, and what are you doing here,' and that's when he punched me in the side of the head and scraped downward to here," the priest said, pointing at the side of his face.

The suspect took his wallet had used his credit cards within an hour of the theft.

"Despite this, I forgive him. He'll hopefully have a long life in front of him and will use it for good. He's a son of God, and God wants good for him—I hope he realizes that."

Burglary / Battery | 2800 Block of West 81th Street | JB308814 by Chicago Police on YouTube

While the attack was not caught on camera, video from the church shows the priest holding the door to the church closed as the burglar tries to get out. When the burglar yanks the door open, the door appears to hit the priest.

Anyone who recognizes the burglar on the surveillance video should call Area Central detectives at 312-747-8730, or send a tip to

Police warned anyone who sees the suspect not to approach him, and instead call 911.

During his homily today, Compton reminded parishioners of the importance of stopping bad behaviors that can lead to sin.

The church has been burglarized twice in the past two years.


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