Groups Say Bishop Ignoring Abuse Policy

Hartford Courant [Bridgeport CT]
December 19, 2003

BRIDGEPORT -- Two organizations involved in helping victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests claim Bridgeport Diocese Bishop William Lori is ignoring church policy on zero tolerance.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests claims Lori is not abiding by the policy by allowing a priest accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl 25 years ago to continue to serve in a parish.

Monsignor Martin Ryan, pastor of St. Edward the Confessor in New Fairfield, has denied the allegations.

"The safe-environment initiative that Bishop Lori has been pushing says they do not tolerate abuse. We expect that would be across-the-board," Joseph O'Callaghan, chairman of the local chapter of Voice of the Faithful, the other group, said Wednesday.

David Cerulli, director of the New York branch of the survivors' network, recently wrote to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, charging that Lori's failure to remove Ryan is a violation of the national church's zero-tolerance policy.

Lori helped draft the policy called the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People at the historic bishops' conference in Dallas in June 2002.

Diocesan spokesman Joseph McAleer had no comment on either complaint.

Earlier, however, McAleer said Ryan's case had been reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board.

"This has not changed, and has been our public position for more than one year. Monsignor Ryan does not pose a threat to anyone," McAleer said.

Ryan has been accused of molesting a teenage girl in the 1970s, when she was a member of the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.

The diocese recently agreed to pay the woman as part of a $21 million settlement to 40 people who claimed they were abused by diocesan priests.

In a statement last year, McAleer said a woman contacted the diocese in April 2002 saying Ryan touched her and tried to kiss her during Memorial Day weekend 1978, when she was 17.

The case was brought to the diocese's Sexual Misconduct Review Board, which said Ryan may have had celibacy issues as a young priest, but was fit for ministry today.

Lori accepted the board's recommendation and kept Ryan in his position, McAleer said.


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