Priests Who Abuse Betray All Catholics

Lancaster Eagle-Gazette [Ohio]
January 27, 2006

BISHOP Frederick F. Campbell followed church policy by permanently removing the Rev. Samuel E. Ritchey from the ministry once a review board determined an abuse complaint was credible.

Ritchey was a priest at Lancaster and Bremen parishes in the 1980s. He also was a teacher at Fisher Catholic High School.

A complaint alleging Ritchey sexually abused a minor in 1977 was reported to Victim's Assistance Coordinator Monsignor Stephan J. Moloney. Ritchey was a teacher at Fisher Catholic High School from 1975 to 1982.

The diocese placed Ritchey on administrative leave two days after the complaint was lodged.

This incident is the first time someone has come forward to accuse Ritchey of abuse, according to the diocese.

Church members undoubtedly will have questions and concerns they want the church hierarchy to address. They will have an opportunity Feb. 6 when Moloney will be at St. Bernadette Church's parish office in Lancaster to talk to people and offer assistance.

We encourage them to go to this meeting to answer questions and listen.

We know some people who do not follow Catholicism may want to want to condemn the church or those who follow it.

Some people also will have questions and concerns about what will become of Ritchey and how will the local parishes handle similar incidents in the future.

Those concerns are valid.

Whether or not Ritchey will face criminal charges remains unknown. We don't know what will happen to Ritchey.

What we are certain of is if the allegation against Ritchey is true, then this man betrayed the trust of not just one child and family. He betrayed the trust of the Fairfield County Catholic community in which he worked.

Unfortunately, the Catholic community - those who extended that trust to Ritchey - becomes a victim of his actions.

Ritchey should be punished appropriately if he is guilty of what he is accused. The Catholic community should not be blamed for one person's alleged behavior.

We hope people keep that in mind when talking about Ritchey and this unfortunate case and if details about this case continue to make headlines.


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