Ellwood City Pastor Resigns

By Glenn May
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
August 29, 2005

The long-time pastor of an Ellwood City parish has resigned amid "serious allegations of impropriety," Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh officials said.

The Rev. Mauro Cautela's resignation as pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish was announced Saturday. He will not be able to perform public sacraments pending the outcome of an investigation, the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the Pittsburgh diocese, said Sunday.

The allegations against Cautela were referred to Lawrence County District Attorney Matthew Mangino last week, Lengwin said. State police in New Castle said they were investigating the case, but said there was nothing to report.

Lengwin declined to characterize the allegations.

"We are neither revealing the names of those who are making the allegations nor the nature of the allegations," Lengwin said.

He said no information was being released to avoid Cautela, 57, being prejudged and to protect anyone who accused him.

Neither Cautela nor Mangino returned calls seeking comment.

Parishioners were told Saturday evening and Sunday about the resignation of Cautela, who has been pastor at the parish since 1992.

"He was a good priest and I was shocked, shocked, shocked," said Stella Fray, 83, of North Sewickley. "I don't know what went wrong."

She declined to speculate on the cause of Cautela's resignation and said the priest helped her through a bout with cancer five years ago.

"I got better because of Father Mauro," Fray said.

Cautela was ordained May 4, 1974, and has been in good standing since, Lengwin said.

The Ellwood City resignation is the latest embarrassment for the Pittsburgh diocese.

It was rocked in 2004 by a series of lawsuits filed by former parishioners who alleged they were abused by a total of 18 priests in incidents reportedly dating from the 1950s until the mid-1990s.

The lawsuits are undecided pending higher court decisions on whether the statute of limitations has expired on the church's liability for the alleged abuses.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Before the lawsuits, University of Pittsburgh football player Billy Gaines, 19, of Ijamsville, Md., fell to his death in the sanctuary of St. Anne Church in Homestead on June 17, 2003, after a priest furnished Gaines and other minors with liquor at a party.

The Rev. Henry Krawczyk, who had let Gaines live in the convent at St. Anne's, later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to seven years' probation. Krawczyk was placed on administrative leave from pastoral duties after his arrest.


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