|Retired Priest Is Removed from Ministry
March 18, 2008
The Rev. Bento R. Fraga, who allegedly committed sexual misconduct with a child while he was a pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Attleboro in 1979, has been removed from the ministry, the Diocese of Fall River said yesterday in a news release. Father Fraga is retired.
"After a full investigation, although Father Fraga has denied the allegation, [the diocesan review board] has determined that the allegation is credible," the statement said.
The statement did not go into specifics of the allegations, but said it was a "single claim of sexual misconduct with a minor." The diocese said it has reported the allegation to the Barnstable County District Attorney's office.
Fraga retired as a pastor in June 2005 and has not been assigned to any parish since then. But, until this decision, he had the "faculties," or permission, to continue ministering as a priest. During retirement, he opted to reside at St. Anthony Parish in Taunton, Mass., "where he frequently assisted," the diocese said.
Bishop George W. Colemen's letter about Fraga's removal was distributed at this weekend's Masses at all parishes where Fraga had served since his 1956 ordination.
Bishop Coleman is "deeply troubled by this matter," the diocese said, and at his request, Catholic Social Services counselors were at weekend Masses at the two Taunton parishes — St. Anthony's and St. Paul's — where Fraga most recently served.
The diocese asked that anyone with information that might help in the case should contact Arlene McNamee of Catholic Social Services' Office of Children Protection at (508) 674-4681, the Barnstable County District Attorney's office at (508) 362-8110 or the Bristol County District Attorney's office at (508) 997-0711.
The diocese statement listed Fraga's assignments as: assistant pastor, St. John of God Parish, Somerset, assigned in 1956; assistant, St. Joseph Parish, Taunton, assigned 1969; assistant, Holy Ghost, Attleboro, assigned 1972; pastor, Holy Ghost, assigned 1974; pastor, St. John the Baptist Parish, New Bedford, assigned 1985; pastor, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Provincetown, assigned 1987; pastor, St. Paul, Taunton, assigned 1992.
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