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Boston archdiocese removes hospital chaplain from ministry after sex abuse allegation

Rev. Christian Ohazulume was arraigned at Quincy District Court. Matthew J. Lee / The Boston Globe

A Catholic priest who’s been working as a Boston hospital chaplain since 2010 will face arraignment Tuesday for the alleged sexual abuse of a child in 2007 in Randolph, authorities said.

In a statement, the Boston Archdiocese identified the cleric as the Rev. Christian Ohazulume, an extern priest from Nnewi, Nigeria, who has served as a chaplain at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 2010 while residing at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Brookline.

The archdiocese said that as an extern priest, Ohazulume is not a priest of the Boston Archdiocese but is visiting from his home diocese in Nigeria. Ohazulume has been barred from parish property in the Boston Archdiocese.

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He has also “had his faculties to minister removed,’’ the archdiocese said.

Prior to his removal, Ohazulume had “assisted in celebrating Mass and hearing confessions’’ at the Brookline parish, the archdiocese said.

Officials at St. Mary of the Assumption declined to comment Wednesday.

Jennifer Kritz, a spokeswoman for Beth Israel, said Ohazulume has been fired from his job at the hospital.

“When the Archdiocese informed us about the allegation and its decision to revoke Rev. Ohazulume’s ministry faculties, we immediately placed him on unpaid leave and terminated him shortly thereafter,’’ Kritz said in a statement. “He is no longer employed by BIDMC.’’

The hospital noted that it does not have a pediatrics unit and does not treat children, except for newborns delivered at the hospital or its neonatal ICU.

According to the archdiocese’s statement, it was informed of the allegation on Aug. 31 and immediately notified law enforcement.

“The allegation was identified to have occurred in 2007, during a time he was residing with a family upon his arrival in the United States,’’ the release said.

In addition to alerting police, the release said, “the Archdiocese has been in contact with his home Diocese of Nnewi, Nigeria and informed them of the allegation and that his faculties to minister have been withdrawn in the Archdiocese of Boston. The Archdiocese was advised by law enforcement to delay until today release of this information while they initiated their investigation.’’

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Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey’s office said Ohazulume was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Quincy District Court on charges related to the alleged assault. The specific charges weren’t immediately available.

Morrissey’s office said Randolph police made the arrest but “that agency is not commenting beyond directing interested members of the media the arraignment.’’

The archdiocese, meanwhile said it is “committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of children and young people in our parishes and institutions,’’ the statement said. “Through its Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach, the Archdiocese continues to make counseling and other services available to survivors, their families and parishes impacted by clergy sexual abuse and by allegations of abuse by members of the clergy.’’

The archdiocese said anyone needing pastoral assistance can contact the office at 617-746-5985.

“Since his installation, Cardinal Seán [O’Malley] has made it a priority to create safe environments in the Archdiocese’s churches and schools and to continue to support all people impacted by clergy sexual abuse,’’ the release said.

The archdiocese also “continues to reach out to those who have been harmed by the tragic reality of clergy sexual abuse in order to provide pastoral help and counseling services to survivors and their families,’’ the statement said.

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Wednesday’s announcement comes as the church is under renewed scrutiny for its handling of sexual abuse complaints.

O’Malley said over the weekend in Rome that addressing the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church “must be the priority that we concentrate on right now,’’ with survivors providing insight to Vatican officials.

O’Malley’s remarks came at the conclusion of the three-day Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a group the Boston cardinal heads.

The meeting followed the July resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington who stepped down from the College of Cardinals amid allegations that he sexually abused minors and adult seminarians.

In August, O’Malley publicly apologized for the way his office handled a 2015 letter from a New York priest alleging sexual abuse by McCarrick. O’Malley’s secretary did not deliver the letter to the cardinal at the time, on the grounds that the commission is not empowered to deal with individual complaints.

Last week, retired Monsignor Kenneth Lasch of Pompton Plains, N.J.,told the Globe that O’Malley’s secretary had “dismissed’’ his written concerns in January that a current priest in the Diocese of Paterson allegedly had seduced an 18-year-old man from Lasch’s parish in the mid-1980s.

On Friday, the Archdiocese of Boston announced that, in a policy change, the cardinal now reviews “all letters that come to his office related to the commission or are abuse-related, even if they address matters outside his authority.’’

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