Brazilian Cardinal Assails Sex-Abuse Report

Criticizes Magazine Article as Calumny Against Priests

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BRASILIA, Brazil, DEC. 18, 2005 ( The president of the Brazilian bishops’ conference assailed as groundless a magazine report that claims 1,700 priests in the country are involved in sexual abuse.

Cardinal Geraldo Majilla Agnello, archbishop of San Salvador of Bahia, criticized the report that appeared in ISTOÉ. Details of the magazine report receive worldwide press attention.

«This grave declaration which is published as something proven is a calumnious declaration, which moreover lacks any solid base,» said the prelate.

In a letter to the editor of the magazine, the cardinal said: «Could it be that the magazine and/or the author of the report don’t know what a ‘sexual crime’ is, and that it is a legal figure predicted by the legal code? To declare in a magazine such as ISTOÉ that 10% of the Catholic clergy of Brazil is involved in ‘sexual crimes,’ without rightful proof, is a crime substantiated by the laws of the country.»

«In name of the bishops and priests of the Church in Brazil,» he added, «I ask that the directors of this magazine review these declarations, their sources and, as well, the quality and accountability of these reports.

«If this cannot be done — which is what I am sure will be the case — let them publicly correct the lie, because if not this lie will be repeated indefinitely in the press and believed by everyone in the country, creating an enormous prejudice against the thousands of priests who offer an inestimable religious and social service to all parts of Brazil.»

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