Priest Removed from Parish after Alleged Sexual Abuse

The Wane
June 19, 2013

[with video]

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  A priest has been removed from his position at the St. Joseph Catholic Church-Hessen Cassel after accusations of sexual abuse surfaced.

Reverend Cornelius Ryan worked as an administrator at the St. Joseph Hessen Cassel Province.

According to a statement issued by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was notified June 10 of alleged sexual abuse that took place about 20 years ago in Africa where Father Ryan was serving at the time. That day, Father Ryan was removed from public ministry.

Parishioners were notified of the situation by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades after Masses on Saturday and Sunday.

"It's devastating, it truly is. I can't imagine what some of those folks are really going through right now. But our trust is in the Lord, not mankind. So, we put our hearts there," said Sean McBride, Secretariat for Communications of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

McBride said the main concern now is the spiritual and safety and well being of the church's parishioners. Trained grief counselors are on site. Other priests are covering masses until another administrator is selected.

"Open and honest communication. That's where it begins and that's where we need to be on site talking to anyone and everyone that wishes to communicate with us and expressing our sorrow and our desire for that," said McBride.

A new administrator is expected to be announced by July 16th.

According to the Congregation of Holy Cross, Reverend Ryan is not facing criminal charges. However, that's a possibility.

Wednesday's announcement came shortly after a report was released outlining how leaders failed for decades to stop sexual abuse in its schools and other ministries throughout the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph. The province spans 10 Midwestern states, including Indiana.

See the full report on the The Capuchin Province of St. Joseph (PDF)

According to the report, 23 within the province were confirmed to have sexually abused minors (pg. 48). Rev. Ryan was not one of the 23 listed.

Rev. Ryan was appointed to the administrative position after his predecessor, Rev. Thomas Lombardi, was removed due to an accusation of sexually abusing a minor at a previous parish.

No decision has been made in Lombardi's case yet as it is still being reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, Sean McBride, diocesan communications director, told the News Sentinel.


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