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Priest caught with child porn

2010-04-09 16:11

Brasilia - Brazilian prosecutors have charged a Roman Catholic priest with possession and exchange over the internet of pornographic images of mainly male adolescents in the latest such scandal to rock the Brazilian church.

Prosecutors in the north-eastern state of Alagoas on Thursday identified the priest as 41-year-old Benedikt Lennartz the parish priest in Craibas, 160km from the state capital.

"An investigation (by federal police) of the priest's residence revealed the existence of a computer hard drive with 1 300 photographs of explicit sex scenes or pornography involving adolescents, most of them males," an official statement said.

The latest charge comes after three other Catholic clergymen in Alagoas were formally accused of paedophilia, one of them after being filmed in sexual acts with minors.

The Brazilian cases were part of a larger wave of child abuse allegations that have raised questions about how the church hierarchy, including Pope Benedict XVI, has dealt with the problem of paedophile priests.

82-year-old priest caught on tape

In March, the Vatican recognised that three priests from Alagoas state were suspected of abusing minors and were being investigated.

SBT television had earlier aired hidden camera footage in which father Luis Marques Barbosa, aged 82, was seen having sexual relations with a male youth.

"It saddens and humiliates us to think of the dramatic situation of the possible victims, and of the church being vilified because of the immoral behaviour of one who should have been a teacher of the faith," Bishop Valerio Breda of Penedo, Alagoas said in a statement on Thursday.

The bishop called for "justice and reparation" if the accusations of sexual abuse are confirmed.

He said the diocese only learned of the cases of three priests when they were exposed by a local television station, and that they were immediately relieved of their duties.