Brazil archbishop investigated for sex abuse

Police in Brazil said on Monday they were investigating the archbishop of the city of Belem for alleged sexual abuse against underage seminary students.

Confirmation of the investigation came after four alleged victims of Archbishop Alberto Taveira Correa accused him of years of abuse in a sweeping investigative report aired Sunday night on Brazil’s biggest broadcaster, TV Globo.

The alleged victims, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the 70-year-old archbishop of abusing them from 2014 to 2018, when they were between 15 and 18 years old.

The former seminarians recounted a pattern of abuse by the archbishop of the northern city.

He would invite them to his home, bring them to his bedroom, ask them questions about sexuality and masturbation, then have them remove their clothes and begin touching and fondling them, sometimes while praying, they said.

‘I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it at first. I trusted him,’ one said.

‘But it became more and more frequent and aggressive.’

Correa denied wrongdoing in a video posted online.

‘I’ve been saddened to learn of the existence of an investigation against me, based on extremely serious accusations but without giving me the opportunity to respond,’ the archbishop said.

Police told AFP they could not give details on their investigation.

The Vatican has also opened an investigation into the accusations, according to TV Globo. The Holy See did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AFP.

Brazil is the world’s biggest Roman Catholic country, with around 120 million adherents.

But it has had relatively few of the sex abuse scandals that have devastated the Church’s image worldwide.

One notable exception was in May 2019, when Bishop Vilson Dias de Oliveira of the southern city of Limeira resigned amid allegations of embezzling Church funds and covering up sexual abuse by a priest.

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