RIO DE JANEIRO – A U.S. Catholic priest and academic was found dead with his hands tied and a cord around his neck in an apartment in the northeastern Brazilian city of Paulista, authorities said Tuesday.
The naked body of 72-year-old Ferdinand Azevedo was found Monday night by members of his congregation who had been trying to get in contact with him for several days and decided to go personally to look for him at the apartment, maintained by the Jesuit order to accommodate priests on individual retreats.
Despite the circumstances in which it was found, the body did not show any signs of violence or visible wounds, police said.
Police superintendent Morgana Alves said that an investigation to determine the cause of death had been launched and she added that she was still waiting for the results of the autopsy.
She refrained from providing any additional information about the case.
The incident occurred in Janga, a seaside suburb of Paulista located a few kilometers (miles) from Recife, the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco.
The body was in a kneeling position and in an advanced state of decomposition.
The priest, who had lived in Brazil since 1975 and came to be the regional head of the Jesuits in Pernambuco, each year took a 10-day retreat in Janga.
Azevedo was a researcher and professor at the department of Religious Sciences at the Universidad Carolica de Pernambuco, in Recife, and he coordinated the affiliated Father Nogueria Machado Research Institute.
A 1963 graduate of Gonzaga University, he earned a Master’s Degree in history from Loyola University of Los Angeles and a doctorate, also in history, from Catholic University in Washington.
Azevedo, who was ordained a priest in the Society of Jesus in 1970, in 1997 received the title of Pernambucan Citizen for his contribution to education in the state. EFE