Hialeah Priest Accused of Abuse Apologizes to Parishioners

By Laura Figueroa
Miami Herald
October 23, 2006

Two weeks after resigning from his post at a Hialeah Catholic church in the wake of sexual abuse allegations, a priest apologized to parishioners via a letter read by the auxiliary bishop.

A Hialeah priest who resigned earlier this month amid allegations that he sexually abused an altar boy admitted to "errors of judgement" and apologized via a letter read to parishioners during Sunday Mass.

The Rev. Gustavo Miyares, who has been a staple at Immaculate Conception Church for the past 15 years, agreed to resign on Oct. 6, after learning of a pending lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted the boy in the 1980s.

"For many years I have been deeply plagued by the events," Miyares wrote in the letter read by Felipe Estevez, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami.

"I prayed for God's guidance. The only conclusion that I could reach was that I had to be true to Christ, my priesthood, and you, my beloved community, and explain to all concerned my sincere regret and repentence for any pain brought on by errors of judgement that I have made," wrote Miyares, who had not publicly contested the allegations and agreed to step down.

Miyares admission of wrongdoing in his letter brought teary-eyed reactions from many sitting in the wooden pews of the church on West First Avenue. Many parishioners declined to comment, angered by the attention the case has brought to "Father Gus" as he was affectionately called.

According to the lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, the former altar boy, identified as "John Doe No. 25" claims he was sexually assaulted by Miyares and the Rev. Pedro Jove while attending summer camp in 1981 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

John Doe, who was around 14 at the time, alleges the abuse included fondling, oral sex and sodomy.

Miyares had not been among the priests purged by the archdiocese following the 2002 nationwide abuse scandal. There had been no complaints in his file at the time.

"An investigation of this matter has been undertaken," Miami Archbishop John C. Favarola wrote in a letter also read Sunday to parishioners. "Father Miyares and I have met. He has decided to resign from the parish and to seek appropriate help. I have accepted his resignation and will do everything possible to see that he received whatever he needs to bring about the personal and spiritual healing he so fervently desires."

Finding a replacement for Miyares is likely to take another month, the bishop said.

"The truth makes us free," Estevez said after Mass.


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