Groups Claim Lori Violating Clergy Abuse Rules
By Daniel Tepfer
December 18, 2003
BRIDGEPORT - Two organizations dedicated to helping victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests claim Bishop William Lori by allowing a priest accused of molestation in the 1970s to remain in the ministry is ignoring church rules safeguarding children.
"The safe-environment initiative that Bishop Lori has been pushing says they do not tolerate abuse. We expect that would be across-the-board," said Joseph O'Callaghan, chairman of the local chapter of Voice of the Faithful.
O'Callaghan said the group recently wrote Lori, demanding that he abide by his own rules and remove Monsignor Martin Ryan, the pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield.
"We haven't gotten a response from him and frankly, we don't expect one, considering the fact that he has not responded to any of our correspondence," he said.
David Cerulli, director of the New York branch of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 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 for abusive priests.
Diocesan spokesman Joseph McAleer had no comment on either complaint.
Earlier, however, McAleer said Ryan "has the full support of Bishop Lori; the diocese; the independent professionals on the Diocesan Review Board, who reviewed his case thoroughly, several times; and the members of his own parish.
"This has not changed, and has been our public position for
more than one year. Monsignor Ryan does not pose a threat toanyone," 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.
During Memorial Day weekend in either 1975 or 1976, when she was 15 or 16 years old, the woman said Ryan grabbed her, French-kissed her and fondled her breasts through her clothes.
She said she told a girlfriend, who then told her the same thing had happened to her.
She said diocesan lawyer Michael Dolan later told her he had located her friend, who, along with her sister, claimed Ryan abused them.
She said diocesan officials told her Ryan was having "issues with celibacy."
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