Brazil Priest Arrested, Accused of Pedophilia

Reuters/May 5, 2002

Sao Paulo, Brazil -- Brazilian police have arrested a Roman Catholic priest on charges of having sex with a 15-year-old boy in one of the latest abuse cases rocking the church worldwide, a police spokeswoman said on Saturday.

Father Paulo Sergio Maya Barbosa was arrested late on Friday in Piracicaba, Brazil -- the world's largest Catholic country -- while he was with the teen-ager in a parked car owned by his archdiocese, the spokeswoman said.

The boy was released to the custody of his father and Barbosa was jailed pending a hearing.

"Also in the car was a folder with 45 Kodak pictures of a boy and 26 negatives, some condoms and a copy of the magazine Veja,'' the spokeswoman said. The cover story of Veja, a widely read magazine, was on pedophilia in the church.

Brazil's National Congregation of Bishops said it did not comment on isolated cases involving its representatives but said the church does not tolerate pedophilia, that the accused are given a chance to reform with psychological help, and then are removed if this step is ineffective.

The arrest follows reports of church sex abuse cases throughout the world including the United States, Latin America, Europe and Africa.

On Friday, the church in Boston, which is at the epicenter of the U.S. scandals, rejected a proposed settlement of up to $30 million with 86 alleged victims of a defrocked priest as another cleric agreed to return to the area to face charges of raping a boy.

The two high-profile Boston cases, and reports of similar abuse in other U.S. archdioceses, drew U.S. cardinals to the Vatican last month to meet with Pope John Paul II.

In the unprecedented council to discuss the scandal, U.S. cardinals said they agreed to support a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual offenders, saying they would be banned from ecclesial duties.

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