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Spotlight Report

Accused of abuse, a priest resigns

Conn. pastor faces allegations in Mass.

By David Abel, Globe Staff, 1/19/2004

The pastor of a Roman Catholic church in New Haven resigned last weekend after the Archdiocese of Boston informed Connecticut church officials of allegations that he had sexually abused a minor two decades ago in Massachusetts.

The allegations against the Rev. Andrew Brizzolara, who since August 1999 had served as pastor of New Haven's St. Michael's Church, date back to when he served in the early 1980s in the Archdiocese of Boston.

"Our counsel was made aware of the allegations by the plaintiff's counsel last week," the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, said last night. "We informed the Archdiocese of Hartford, and then they placed the father on administrative leave."

Officials in the Archdiocese of Hartford said they informed parishioners of the resignation during Masses over the weekend.

Brizzolara was relieved of all his ministerial duties by Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, said the Rev. John Gatzak, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

"That means he cannot minister in any capacity in the Archdiocese of Hartford," Gatzak said. "He has returned to his order community and is staying at a residence specifically for their priests."

No allegations of sexual misconduct have arisen from Brizzolara's service in Connecticut.

A member of the Missionaries of St. Charles order, which mostly ministers to immigrant populations, Brizzolara is well known in New Haven, where in 2002 the local American Committee on Italian Migration honored him, Gatzak said.

Church officials provided no information about the substance of the allegations, when they surfaced, or specifically, where Brizzolara served while in Boston.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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