Seven Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse Are Defrocked
By Denise Lavoie
The Associated Press, carried in Boston.com
March 17, 2006
BOSTON --A former vice chancellor of the Boston Archdiocese and six other priests accused of molesting children have been defrocked, church officials announced Friday.
In a statement, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley expressed his "deepest sorrow for the grievous harm" done by Monsignor Frederick Ryan and the other Boston priests.
"The violations of childhood innocence, under the guise of priestly care, are a source of profound shame," O'Malley said.
Ryan was one of the highest-ranking church officials to be accused of child molestation since the clergy sex abuse scandal broke in 2002. He was placed on administrative leave that year after being accused of abusing two boys in the 1970s and '80s at a Catholic high school.
The removal of Ryan and the six others from the priesthood means they are no longer allowed to perform any public ministry in the church. They also will no longer receive any financial support from the archdiocese. The Vatican also stripped a deacon of his duties.
Ryan was a former vice chancellor at the archdiocese, vicar, and chaplain at Catholic Memorial High School in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood.
David Carney, one of two men who alleged that Ryan molested them while they were students at Catholic Memorial, said he was "elated" to hear that Ryan can no longer serve as a priest.
"I am probably the happiest I've ever been since before I met Fred Ryan," Carney said. "I've done everything I can do to get him out of there."
Carney, who said he was molested by Ryan at age 14 in 1981 and 1982, settled a lawsuit against the archdiocese as part of the 2003 global settlement.
"It does make me feel like they believed me," said Carney, now 39. "I just feel like they did the right thing."
Ryan's attorney, Timothy O'Neill of Boston, declined to comment, calling the defrocking "an internal church matter." He said his client would have no comment.
Beside Ryan, the other priests who were defrocked were: Anthony Buchette, Paul Finegan, Thomas Forry, Robert Morrisette, Ernest Tourigney and Patrick Tague. Joseph Crowley, a deacon, will also no longer be allowed to perform any public ministry in the church.
Ryan was ordained as a priest of the Boston Archdiocese in 1964. He served as vice chancellor of the archdiocese, a high-ranking position in the chancery, from 1974 to 1995. He had been working as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Kingston and was an area vicar with oversight of 16 parishes when the archdiocese placed him on administrative leave in 2002.
Garry Garland, another man who accused Ryan of molesting him as a boy, was arrested in March 2002 after he went to Ryan's home in Chelsea with a knife in his car. He told police he did not intend to harm Ryan and agreed to undergo voluntary psychiatric treatment.
The scandal erupted in the Boston Archdiocese in 2002, prompting O'Malley's predecessor -- Cardinal Bernard Law -- to resign under mounting pressure about his handling of the crisis and of priests who had been accused of molesting children. About a year later, the archdiocese reached an $85 million deal to settle lawsuits by about 550 victims of clergy sex abuse.
An investigation by the state attorney general later found that about 1,000 had been molested by dozens of priests over about five decades. Many of the priests were shipped from parish to parish to try to conceal the allegations.
"I pray and hope that the emotional, physical, and spiritual wounds carried by survivors will be healed and their trust renewed," said O'Malley, who is set to be elevated to cardinal next week. "I pledge the ongoing commitment of the archdiocese to accompany those who have been abused in their healing work."
EDITORS' NOTE -- Denise Lavoie is a Boston-based reporter covering the courts and legal issues. She can be reached at dlavoie(at)ap.org
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