|Sorrow, Disbelief at Church of Suspended Priest
By Vivian Nereim
July 27, 2009
CAMBRIDGE - The Rev. Walter A. Carreiro was the only priest left yesterday at St. Anthony of Padua, where one of his colleagues was on vacation, and another, the Rev. Pedro Jose Damazio, had been suspended because of allegations of adult sexual misconduct.
As he rushed to perform two baptisms after saying Mass in English and Portuguese, Carreiro said he was saddened by Damazio’s suspension.
“It’s very important to pray for the alleged victims of any abuse,’’ he said, “but we also remember the priests - those who are accused - because they need our prayers as well.’’
Damazio, who had served the Archdiocese of Boston for more than 10 years, had been a parochial vicar at St. Anthony’s, which serves a large Brazilian community. He was also a priest of the Diocese of Tubarao in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Yesterday, Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston, declined to release any further details about Damazio’s suspension, which was announced Saturday in a press release that said he had been accused of “adult sexual misconduct.’’
She said a law enforcement agency was investigating the matter, but would not identify which agency, and the Cambridge Police Department would not say whether it is involved in the case.
Lynch also declined to describe the nature of the misconduct Damazio is accused of, though she said the allegations had been brought forward “very recently.’’
O Globo, a major newspaper in Brazil, reported that Damazio had returned to Brazil on July 12 shortly after receiving a letter informing him he had been accused of improper behavior, because he wanted to be the first to give the news to his mother, who is 86 and in poor health.
Carreiro said he urged his congregation to pray for Damazio and his mother.
“We live in a society where you’re innocent until proven guilty,’’ he said. “Unfortunately, society is always ready to judge.’’
As members of the church filed out of the expansive concrete building on Cardinal Medeiros Avenue yesterday, they reacted to the news with a surprise, sorrow, and disbelief. Most had found out about the allegations against Damazio last week, they said.
“I am with him 100 percent,’’ said Joanna Maciel who said she did not believe the allegations.
Damazio had been a shy but kind presence, she said. “He was so quiet, very quiet,’’ she said. “You could see when he was doing Mass, like he was ashamed to even look to the people.’’
Joe Antunes expressed sympathy for Damazio, noting that the alleged misconduct had involved an adult, not a child. “They are fathers, but they are men, too,’’ Antunes said. “I am OK if they are going to be married.’’
Vera Monteiro said she had known Damazio through the church for years, but had never imagined this. “I am very sad,’’ she said, “because for me, he was a wonderful priest.’’
Vivian Nereim can be reached at email@example.com
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