Pope shakes up Vatican communications operations

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis announced Tuesday a shakeup of the Vatican's communications operations, replacing the longtime editor of the Holy See newspaper and naming a prominent Italian journalist to coordinate the editorial line of all Vatican media. Andrea Tornielli, Vatican reporter for Turin daily La Stampa, was named to the new position of editorial … Continue reading “Pope shakes up Vatican communications operations”

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis announced Tuesday a shakeup of the Vatican's communications operations, replacing the longtime editor of the Holy See newspaper and naming a prominent Italian journalist to coordinate the editorial line of all Vatican media.

Andrea Tornielli, Vatican reporter for Turin daily La Stampa, was named to the new position of editorial director for the Dicastery of Communications, responsible for coordinating the Vatican's editorial operations.

In addition, the Vatican named an Italian writer and professor, Andrea Monda, to become editor of L'Osservatore Romano newspaper. He replaces Giovanni Maria Vian, a church historian and journalist who has headed the daily since 2007.

The Vatican's media operations have been undergoing a problematic reform process aimed at reducing redundancies and improving coordination. Among its victims was Vatican Radio and its vast multilingual broadcasts.

The first head of the revamped umbrella communications office, which gathered all Vatican media under one department, was forced to resign earlier this year after he misrepresented a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI and released a doctored photo of it.

Francis named Paolo Ruffini, who had led the broadcaster of the Italian bishops' conference, to replace him — the first time a layman had been named to head a Holy See department. In a statement Tuesday, Ruffini said both Tornielli and Monda were bridge-builders who know how to speak to various generations and develop new means of communications.

Tornielli runs a must-read Vatican blog, Vatican Insider, and is the author of several books about Francis that benefited from access to the pope himself. Tornielli's latest was a forensic critique of an 11-page document by a retired Vatican ambassador accusing Francis of covering up for a disgraced ex-American cardinal.

Monda, for his part, has taught religion and literature at various pontifical universities since 2000 and has written cultural articles for Italian Catholic publications, the Vatican said.

L'Osservatore Romano, with its storied 150-year history and daily and weekly editions, had sought to retain a certain editorial independence from the rest of the Vatican's other media operations during the reform.

Under Vian's leadership, the paper broadened its cultural coverage and launched a women's monthly magazine, "Women Church World," among other things.

Vatican committee: Church credibility at risk over sex abuse

VATICAN CITY – Organizers of an upcoming Vatican summit on sex abuse prevention are warning that the credibility of the Catholic Church is in jeopardy over the abuse scandal and are urging participants to meet with victims personally before coming to Rome.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide, organizers said the church must develop a "comprehensive and communal response" to the crisis, and that the first step is "acknowledging the truth of what has happened."

Pope Francis invited the church leaders to the Feb. 21-24 summit to respond to what has become the gravest threat to his papacy, as the sex abuse and cover-up scandal erupted in the U.S., Chile and elsewhere this year.

In revealing the first details of the preparations for the meeting, the Vatican said the summit would focus on three main areas: responsibility, accountability and transparency.

"Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world," the organizers wrote.

"Each of us needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the church accountable," they said.

It was signed by the four members of the preparatory committee for the meeting: Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, as well as the Vatican's leading abuse experts Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and the Rev. Hans Zollner.

They urged conference presidents to meet with victims before they come to Rome "to learn firsthand the suffering they have endured."

The appeal was clear evidence that throughout the church, many bishops continue to deny the scope of the problem and have never met with a victim.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that doing so "is a concrete way of putting victims first and acknowledging the horror of what happened."

Francis announced he was convening the summit in September, signaling awareness at the top of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem and not restricted to some parts of the world or a few Western countries.

Francis is still working to recover from his botched handling of the sex abuse scandal in the Chilean church, sparked earlier this year when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest.

His papacy was then jolted by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that Francis himself rehabilitated a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal accused of molesting and harassing adult seminarians. Francis hasn't responded to the allegations, though he has ordered a limited investigation into them.

New Ukrainian Orthodox leader gives 1st liturgy, urges unity

MINSK, Belarus – In his first liturgy as head of the freshly christened Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphanius called Sunday for Ukrainians to unite under the new church and pray for peace in Ukraine.

Speaking the day after Ukrainian bishops approved the charter for a religious authority separate from the Russian Orthodox Church, Epiphanius appealed to Ukrainian priests who have worked under the Russian church to join his new community.

"We are ready to accept them with brotherly love, mutual respect, and to forget all of the grievances that have accumulated so far," said Epiphanius, whom Ukraine's bishops elected Saturday to lead the new church.

The creation of a new church is an attempt to unite Ukrainian Orthodox believers under one roof. But realizing that goal is not assured because there remains an organized Orthodox community in Ukraine loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate.

In recent months, Ukrainian authorities sought to portray Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine as supporters of the Russian-backed separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, claims the clerics have rejected.

"We must complete the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy … pray for an end to the war (in eastern Ukraine), and for a just peace in Ukraine," Epiphanius said.

Russia has vigorously protested Ukraine's bid for spiritual independence. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine had been a wing of the Russian Orthodox Church since the late 17th century.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church a key campaign issue as he runs for re-election in March. But he has insisted that those who wished to remain with the Russian church will be free to do so.

The Russian Orthodox Church remains unpersuaded, alleging the Ukrainian state has harassed priests and believers aligned with the Russian church. It called Friday on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, Pope Francis and other spiritual leaders to protect Orthodox faithful in Ukraine,

Patriarch Kirill – the head of the Russian Orthodox Church – led a service attended by some bewildered believers Sunday at the Cathedral of the Virgin's Nativity, located outside Moscow in Zvenigorod.

Asked by The Associated Press what he thought of the new Ukrainian Church, Vyacheslav Fitiskin said, "Why do we need it? Let our Church be there, because those are our lands, historically."

Patriarch Kirill did not directly address the creation of the new Ukrainian church during the service. His spokesman, Father Alexander Volkov, said the Russian Orthodox church has no armies to fight with, nor the political tools to challenge the formation of a new church.

"But the Church has something else," he said, "it has the opportunity to speak the truth loudly from any podium. And the truth of the oppression of believers, violation of constitutional rights of Ukrainians who will vote against Poroshenko in March, that is our real power."

Maria Lipman, a prominent independent Russian political analyst, told the AP that Moscow views the establishment of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as a failure of the Russian Orthodox Church leadership.

"There is no question that the Church's failure is seen by the Kremlin and by President Vladimir Putin personally as a very unpleasant and undesired development."

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO – A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing more than 300 women turned himself in Sunday to authorities in Brazil's central state of Goias, after spending almost a day as a fugitive, police said.

Joao Teixeira de Faria, who is known as Joao de Deus, had been given until 3 p.m. Saturday to comply with an arrest warrant, but he did not surrender by the deadline and was deemed a fugitive from justice, officials had said.

He finally surrendered Sunday afternoon on the outskirts of Abadiania, a city in Goias, a Civil Police officer told The Associated Press. The officer's name could not be used under police regulations.

According to a video released by the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, de Faria said: "I surrender to divine justice and justice on Earth."

De Faria, 76, was to spend the night at the State Delegation of Criminal Investigations in the state capital.

He has been a faith healer for four decades in a small town in central Brazil and became famous for conducting "psychic surgeries" that he said could cure diseases, including cancer.

The allegations against de Faria first surfaced last week, with several individuals going on a Globo Television show to recount charges that he had been sexually violent with them or relatives. After that, authorities were contacted by more than 300 other accusers, including de Faria's adult daughter, Dalva Teixeira.

In an interview published Friday by Brazilian magazine Veja, Teixeira said that under the pretense of mystical treatments he abused and raped his daughter between the ages of 10 and 14.

She said her father stopped after she became pregnant by one of his employees. Teixeira said she was beaten so severely by her father that she suffered a miscarriage.

"My father is a monster," she said.

Representatives for the law office representing de Faria have said that they were not making statements on the case.

De Faria attracted followers from around the world, all looking for spiritual guidance or cures for afflictions.

He gained international exposure in 2012 when Oprah Winfrey visited his retreat to interview him for her talk show. In a since-deleted column on oprah.com, Winfrey wrote that she was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing him cut into the breast of a woman without anesthesia and that she left feeling "an overwhelming sense of peace."

.

Locked away, forgotten: Muslim Uighur wives of Pakistani men

ISLAMABAD – The last time Chaudhry Javed Atta saw his wife was over a year ago — the Pakistani trader in dried and fresh produce was leaving their home in northwestern China's heavily Muslim Xinjiang region to go back to his country to renew his visa.

He remembers the last thing she told him: "As soon as you leave, they will take me to the camp and I will not come back."

That was August, 2017. By then, Atta and Amina Manaji, from the Muslim ethnic Uighur group native to Xinjiang, had been married for 14 years.

Atta is one of scores of Pakistani businessmen __ and he says there are more than 200 __ whose spouses have disappeared, taken to what Chinese authorities tell them are education centers.

Beijing has been accused of interning members of its Muslim population — by some reports as many as 1 million — to "re-educate" them away from their faith. It is seen as a response to riots and violent attacks that the government blamed on separatists.

"They call them schools, but they are prisons," Atta said. "They can't leave."

Pakistanis often rally loudly in defense of Islam and Muslims whenever they are perceived offended around the world — most recently over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. In 1989, protests spread from Pakistan elsewhere, leading to the fatwa by Iran's Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini against author Salman Rushdie for his depiction of Islam in his book Satanic Verses.

But political and economic factors, including concerns about losing out on vast Chinese investments, have kept Pakistan and other Muslim countries silent about the plight in China of fellow Muslims, the Uighurs.

"Cold, hard interests will always carry the day" in international relations, said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center. "The Muslim world's deafening silence about China's treatment of Muslims can be attributed to its strong interest in maintaining close relations with the world's next superpower."

China is financing major development projects in cash-strapped Pakistan. Islamabad says Beijing's up to $75 billion development project known the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — part of an effort to reconstruct the historic Silk Road linking China to all corners of Asia — will bring new prosperity to Pakistan, where the average citizen lives on just $125 a month.

For Atta, it's not just the separation from his wife.

He has also had to leave their two sons, who are 5 and 7 years old and whose passports were confiscated by the Chinese government, in the care of his wife's family. Otherwise, he said, the authorities would have put them in an orphanage.

He went back to China twice for a few months but both times his visas expired and he had to return to Pakistan. Getting in touch with family in Xinjiang is a circuitous route that involves reaching out to Pakistani friends still there, who then track down family members willing to talk.

"Now especially I am worried. It is now eight, almost nine months, that I have not seen my children," he said. "I haven't even been able to talk to them."

Last week, Atta finally talked to his brother-in-law after a friend discovered he had a heart attack and was recovering in a hospital in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

"He said my sons were good, but he had no news of my wife," said Atta.

China routinely responds to queries on Uighurs by saying its policies are aimed at creating "stability and lasting peace" in Xinjiang but President Xi Jinping's campaign to subdue a sometimes restive region, including the internment of more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, has alarmed a United Nations panel and the U.S. government.

Mushahid Hussain, chairman of Pakistan's Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said the cardinal principle of Pakistan-China relations is to refrain from commenting on anything to do with the other country's domestic issues.

"Given the relationship of Pakistan with China, and in the Muslim world in particular, the Chinese narrative is apparently being accepted across the board as the one that is correct," Hussain said.

A steady stream of Pakistani men has visited Beijing in recent months , lobbying for the release of their wives to little avail. Some say they met Pakistan's ambassador to China, Masood Khalid, on multiple occasions, and were told their issues were raised privately with the Chinese.

Another Pakistani man in a similar predicament, Mir Aman, went to China more than 25 years ago as a poor laborer in search of work.

There, he met his wife, Maheerban Gul, they worked hard and eventually bought a hotel. The couple has two daughters, Shahnaz, 16, and Shakeela, 12, both now with their father in Pakistan.

Last year, Aman first tried to go back to China alone, but the authorities denied him entry at a border crossing without his wife. Then they returned together to Xinjiang. There, she was ordered to report every morning to the police, who gave her books on the Communist Party to read.

"When they would see anything written in Urdu, a prayer mat or something related to religion, they would seize it," he said. "They want to eliminate Islam."

After a few weeks, Aman was ordered to leave even though he had a six-month visa. He was told he could return after one month. When he did, his wife was gone.

For four months he pestered police every day, threatened to take his life in public. He was finally allowed to see his wife, who was brought to a local police station, for just an hour.

They cried. When the meeting ended he was told to go home to Pakistan "and stop making trouble for the administration," Aman said.

He has no idea where she is being held.

___

Associated Press video-journalist Dake Kang in Beijing contributed to this report.

Onetime Indian politician convicted in 1984 anti-Sikh riots

NEW DELHI – An Indian court on Monday convicted a former politician for his role in riots that swept India in 1984, leaving thousands of Sikhs dead in bloody pogroms, and sentenced him to life in prison.

The Delhi High Court reversed an earlier acquittal of Sajjan Kumar in the riots, which broke out after then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards.

The 73-year-old Kumar, then a leader in Gandhi's Congress party, was convicted of inciting a New Delhi mob to kill a Sikh family. He was ordered to surrender by Dec. 31 to begin serving his sentence.

More than 3,000 Sikhs were killed just in New Delhi in the riots.

A handful of other officials have been imprisoned for the violence, but India's criminal justice system moves painfully slowly. Powerful suspects are often able to dodge prosecution.

In their ruling, the judges said many of those responsible for the 1984 riots had escaped justice for too long.

"A majority of the perpetrators of these horrific mass crimes enjoyed political patronage and were aided by an indifferent law enforcement agency. . The criminals escaped prosecution and punishment for over two decades," they wrote.

The judges also wrote that "there appeared to be ongoing large-scale efforts to suppress the cases against" Kumar.

Gandhi was killed after violently suppressing a Sikh insurgency that culminated in an army assault on the Golden Temple, the holiest site in Sikhism, where militant Sikhs had taken refuge.

In the days after her death, mobs of Hindus went from house to house across northern India, pulling Sikhs from their homes, hacking many to death and burning others alive.

US sportswear traced to factory in China’s internment camps

HOTAN, China – Chinese men and women locked in a mass detention camp where authorities are "re-educating" ethnic minorities are sewing clothes that have been imported all year by a U.S. sportswear company.

The camp, in Hotan, China, is one of a growing number of internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where by some estimates 1 million Muslims are detained, forced to give up their language and their religion and subject to political indoctrination. Now, the Chinese government is also forcing some detainees to work in manufacturing and food industries. Some of them are within the internment camps; others are privately-owned, state-subsidized factories where detainees are sent once they are released.

The Associated Press has tracked recent, ongoing shipments from one such factory — Hetian Taida Apparel — inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier in Statesville, North Carolina. Badger's clothes are sold on college campuses and to sports teams across the country, although there is no way to tell where any particular shirt made in Xinjiang ends up.

The shipments show how difficult it is to stop products made with forced labor from getting into the global supply chain, even though such imports are illegal in the U.S. Badger CEO John Anton said Sunday that the company would halt shipments while it investigates.

Hetian Taida's chairman Wu Hongbo confirmed that the company has a factory inside a re-education compound, and said they provide employment to those trainees who were deemed by the government to be "unproblematic."

"We're making our contribution to eradicating poverty," Wu told the AP over the phone.

Chinese authorities say the camps offer free vocational training for Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities, mostly Muslims, as part of a plan to bring them into "a modern civilized" world and eliminate poverty in the region. They say that people in the centers have signed agreements to receive vocational training.

The Xinjiang Propaganda Department did not respond to a faxed request for comment. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman accused the foreign media Monday of making "many untrue reports" about the training centers, but did not specify when asked for details.

"Those reports are completely based on hearsay evidence or made out of thin air," the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said at a daily briefing.

However, a dozen people who either had been in a camp or had friends or family in one told the AP that detainees they knew were given no choice but to work at the factories. Most of the Uighurs and Kazakhs, who were interviewed in exile, also said that even people with professional jobs were retrained to do menial work.

Payment varied according to the factory. Some got paid nothing, while others earned up to several hundred dollars a month, they said — barely above minimum wage for the poorer parts of Xinjiang. A person with firsthand knowledge of the situation in one county estimated that more than 10,000 detainees — or 10 to 20 percent of the internment population there — are working in factories, with some earning just a tenth of what they used to earn before. The person declined to be named out of fear of retribution.

A former reporter for Xinjiang TV in exile said that during his month-long detention last year, young people in his camp were taken away in the mornings to work without compensation in carpentry and a cement factory.

"The camp didn't pay any money, not a single cent," he said, asking to be identified only by his first name, Elyar, because he has relatives still in Xinjiang. "Even for necessities, such as things to shower with or sleep at night, they would call our families outside to get them to pay for it."

Rushan Abbas, a Uighur in Washington, D.C., said her sister is among those detained. The sister, Dr. Gulshan Abbas, was taken to what the government calls a vocational center, although she has no specific information on whether her sister is being forced to work.

"American companies importing from those places should know those products are made by people being treated like slaves," she said. "What are they going to do, train a doctor to be a seamstress?"

Mainur Medetbek's husband did odd repair jobs before vanishing into a camp in February during a visit to China from their home in Kazakhstan. She has been able to glean a sense of his conditions from monitored exchanges with relatives and from the husband of a woman in the same camp. He works in an apparel factory and is allowed to leave and spend the night with relatives every other Saturday.

Though Medetbek is uncertain how much her husband makes, the woman in his camp earns 600 yuan (about $87) a month, less than half the local minimum wage and far less than what Medetbek's husband used to earn.

"They say it's a factory, but it's an excuse for detention. They don't have freedom, there's no time for him to talk with me," she said. "They say they found a job for him. I think it's a concentration camp."

New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith, a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, called on the Trump Administration Monday to ban imports from Chinese companies associated with detention camps.

"Not only is the Chinese government detaining over a million Uyghurs and other Muslims, forcing them to revoke their faith and profess loyalty to the Communist Party, they are now profiting from their labor," said Smith. "U.S. consumers should not be buying and U.S. businesses should not importing goods made in modern-day concentration camps. "

__

Martha Mendoza reported from Santa Cruz, California.

Ukraine Orthodox leaders approve break with Russian church

KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian Orthodox leaders on Saturday approved the creation of a unified church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate and elected a leader to head the new church, officials said.

The leader of the new autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be Metropolitan Epiphanius, a 39-year-old bishop from the Kiev Patriarchate.

The vote, which was held Saturday at a closed-door synod in Kiev's St. Sophia Cathedral, is certain to anger authorities in Russia.

"God heard our appeals and gave us this anticipated unity," Epiphanius told a crowd of thousands who had gathered outside the cathedral. He stressed that the new church's doors would be open to all, and encouraged Ukrainians to rally behind it.

The newly formed community is now expected to receive independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based institution considered the so-called "first among equals" of leaders of the world's Orthodox Churches. It has already drafted a charter for an independent Ukrainian church.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has made the creation of a new church a key campaign issue, attended the synod as a non-voting observer.

"Ukraine was not, is not, and will not be the canonical territory of the Russian church," Poroshenko told the gathering of Orthodox officials on Saturday. He added that an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church was now a matter of national security.

"This is a question of Ukrainian statehood," Poroshenko said. "We are seizing spiritual independence, which can be likened to political independence. We are breaking the chains that tie us to the (Russian) empire."

Poroshenko said he would travel with Epiphanius to Istanbul in January to receive an official Tomos from the head of global Orthodoxy granting the new church independence.

Representatives of Ukraine's three Orthodox Churches attended the synod, but only two from the branch loyal to Moscow showed up.

The Russian Orthodox Church has protested vigorously against Kiev's attempts to create an independent church. One Russian bishop — Metropolitan Hilarion in Volokolamsk — on Saturday compared the two representatives of the Moscow-backed church to Judas.

A spokesman for Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, vowed Saturday that the Moscow Patriarchate will continue to work in Ukraine despite the creation of the new independent church.

The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect believers in Ukraine in the face of pressure on Moscow-affiliated clerics.

Ukrainian authorities have sought to portray Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine as supporting Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, claims that the clerics have rejected.

As church tensions have grown, Ukraine's Security Service has searched Russian Orthodox churches in Ukraine and the homes of Russian Orthodox priests in several Ukrainian cities. The agency also has summoned dozens of priests in for questioning.

__

Karmanau reported from Minsk, Belarus.

Megachurch pastor criticized for buying wife $200G Lamborghini

A South Carolina pastor defended buying his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini Urus as an eighth wedding anniversary present after coming under fire for the purchase.

Pastor John Gray, the leader of Relentless Church in Greenville, S.C., came under fire for presenting his wife, Aventer, with the expensive vehicle. A video that went viral, which has since been deleted, showed the pastor surprising his wife with the keys to the luxury vehicle last week, the Charlotte Observer reported.

The pastor was criticized by social media users questioning how he could afford the car. In a Facebook Live video Thursday, Gray defended the purchase while tearing up at times.

SOUTH CAROLINA TEEN PLEADS GUILTY TO MURDERING FATHER, 6-YEAR-OLD BOY

“Pastor buys his wife this expensive car,” Gray said. “First of all it wasn’t a pastor who bought the car, it was a husband that bought the car. Get that in your spirit.”

He also addressed the speculation that he used some money from the church to pay for the Lamborghini.

“Did this man use any money from the church to do this?” Gray asked. “And the answer is no. Absolutely not. And God, take my life on this live feed if I did.”

SOUTH CAROLIA FISHERMAN HOOKS 17-FOOT GREAT WHITE SHARK: IT WAS A ‘MONSTER’

The pastor continued that the car was bought with money he saved from his second book deal and the fourth season of his reality show “The Book of John Gray” which airs on the OWN Channel.

"My wife has pushed for my dreams and my vision and she has toiled with a man who is still trying to find himself," he said. "That carries a weight. I wanted to honor her for how she’s covered me."

Gray said he has put a deposit on the car but has not fully paid it off. In an Instagram post, his wife defended her husband.

“My hubby is a hard worker,” she wrote. “He worked his whole life and he saved to bless his wife.”

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Brazil faith healer wanted by police as abuse cases mount

RIO DE JANEIRO – A celebrity faith healer, accused of sexual violence by hundreds of women throughout Brazil, was being sought by police Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The U.S. Embassy in Brazil put out an alert telling people to contact Brazilian authorities if they had suffered abuse at the hands of Joao Teixeira de Faria.

The allegations against de Faria surfaced last week when several individuals appeared on a Globo Television show claiming that he had been sexually violent with them or relatives.

De Faria had worked as a faith healer for the last four decades in a small town in central Brazil under the name Joao de Deus. He became famous for conducting "psychic surgeries" that he said could cure diseases, including cancer.

Since the first allegations, more than 300 people have contacted authorities, and the accusers include de Faria's adult daughter, Dalva Teixeira.

In an interview published Friday by Brazilian magazine Veja, Teixeira said that under the pretense of mystical treatments he abused and raped her between the ages of 10 and 14. She said that he stopped raping her when she got pregnant by one of his employees. Teixeira said she was beaten so severely by her father that she suffered a miscarriage.

"My father is a monster," she said.

"In most sexual abuse cases, victims will come forward gradually as the investigation develops, but in this instance, we were flooded from the start," Luciano Miranda Meireles, one of the prosecutors assigned to a task force created to investigate de Faria, told The Associated Press.

Representatives for the law office representing de Faria said that they were not making statements on the case at the time.

De Faria attracted followers from around the world, all looking for spiritual guidance or cures for afflictions.

He gained international exposure in 2012, when Oprah Winfrey visited his retreat to interview him for her talk show. In a since-deleted column on oprah.com, Winfrey wrote that she was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing him cut into the breast of a woman without anesthesia and that she left feeling "an overwhelming sense of peace."

Many of the de Faria's accusers say they were molested while children. A court dismissed a 2010 suit involving an alleged sexual molestation of a 16-year-old girl by Faria after the defense argued that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the case.

The large number of cases against de Faria stands in stark contrast to a culture of relative impunity when it comes to sex abuse in Latin America's largest nation. A recent study using Health Ministry data estimated that more than half a million Brazilians are raped every year. Researchers found that only about 10 percent of cases are ever presented to authorities and 70 percent of victims are children.

.