July 17, 2005

Suspended pastor still fights allegations

Miami Herald


When the Rev. Alvaro Guichard became pastor of St. Francis de Sales in 1984, South Beach was one of the poorest areas in Miami Beach. The neighborhood consisted of mostly low-income Hispanic immigrants.

During his nearly 20 years as pastor, Guichard, a former political prisoner in Cuba, opened the church's doors to the poor and welcomed refugees from the Mariel boatlift.

''He was very good with all the people,'' said Silvia Concha, a parishioner since 1988 and a former parish secretary.

But Guichard -- publicly disgraced by allegations that he sexually abused five boys in the 1970s and early 1980s -- now spends time writing letters of protest to the Miami-Dade state attorney's office, the Archdiocese of Miami and the Vatican that he is innocent.

In May 2002, the archdiocese suspended Guichard as the pastor of St. Francis after charges of sexual abuse emerged.

Posted by kshaw at July 17, 2005 06:36 AM