8 Boston Clergymen are Dismissed by the Vatican
Boston-area clerics accused of sexually abusing
By Michael Levenson and Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff
March 18, 2006
The Vatican has dismissed eight Boston-area clerics accused of
sexually abusing children, including a monsignor who for two decades
was the third-most-powerful official in the Catholic Archdiocese
of Boston in addition to six other priests and a deacon, church
officials said yesterday.
Dismissal from the ministry, which takes effect immediately, means
that the men will no longer receive financial support from the archdiocese
or be allowed to perform most of the public functions of a Catholic
The eight had served for decades across Greater Boston, in schools,
jails, hospitals, and churches. Among them was the former vice chancellor
of the archdiocese, Monsignor Frederick J. Ryan, who was accused
in 2002 of having repeatedly taken two students in the early 1980s
from Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury to the chancery
and molesting them. He is the highest-ranking priest to be dismissed
since the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in 2002.
Ordained in 1964, Ryan had a long career, serving in churches in
Holliston and Hyde Park and at the chancery from 1974 to 1995, where
he served under Cardinal Bernard F. Law. In 2002, allegations surfaced
from two victims who said that Ryan had abused them while they were
students at Catholic Memorial. He resigned in April of that year
from St. Joseph Parish in Kingston, where he was serving as pastor.
Under church law, all credible accusations of abuse are referred
to the Vatican, even against priests who voluntarily request to
leave the ministry. The Vatican can then decide how to resolve the
cases or can allow dioceses to do so.
Kelly Lynch, an archdiocesan spokeswoman, declined yesterday to
say how many cases have been referred to Rome, how many resulted
in dismissal from public ministry, how many were exonerated, and
how many are still pending.
In June 2005, the Archdiocese of Boston announced that six priests
accused of sexually abusing minors are ''no longer in the clerical
state," indicating that they were either dismissed by the Vatican
or had voluntarily left the priesthood. The priests were among several
dozen accused of abuse who were removed from ministry in Boston
after the abuse crisis emerged in early 2002.
Last year, the archdiocese would not offer any details about the
process by which the six accused priests left the clerical state,
but said in a statement that ''loss of the clerical state means
that none of these men may function in any capacity as a priest,
with the exception of offering absolution to the dying."
In a statement yesterday, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley pointed out
that the Vatican announced the latest round of punishments during
Lent, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter, when Roman Catholics
are called to repentance.
''With this Lenten call in mind, this moment provides an opportunity
to express to the survivors of clergy sexual abuse and to their
families my deepest sorrow for the grievous harm done to them,"
O'Malley said. ''The violations of childhood innocence, under the
guise of priestly care, are a source of profound shame.
''I pray and hope that the emotional, physical, and spiritual wounds
carried by survivors will be healed and their trust renewed,"
he said. ''I pledge the ongoing commitment of the archdiocese to
accompany those who have been abused in their healing work."
David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests, called on O'Malley to ''post the names of all
proven, admitted, and credibly accused clerics on his website."
''He should also prod Vatican officials to speed up the dozens
of other cases of pedophile priests that have been delayed for years,"
In addition to Ryan, the Vatican also dismissed from public ministry
Anthony L. Buchette, 74, formerly of St. Kevin Church in Dorchester;
Paul J. Finegan, 61, formerly of St. Bernadette Parish in Randolph;
Thomas P. Forry, 66, formerly of several South Shore parishes; Robert
H. Morrisette, formerly of Assumption Parish in Bellingham; Ernest
E. Tourigney, formerly of Immaculate Conception Parish in Weymouth;
and Patrick J. Tague, 68, who ran a halfway house for teenagers
in Hyde Park.
The deacon was Joseph Crowley, who served at Children's Hospital
The men retired or left active ministry years ago, Lynch said.
Each, however, had continued to draw financial support from the
archdiocese, and those payments will now stop, Lynch said.
For some victims, yesterday's announcement brought a sense of vindication.
''It's probably one of the highlights of my life -- I think I was
3 feet off the ground when I found out," said David Carney,
39, a Scituate resident who said Ryan abused him when he was a freshman
at Catholic Memorial.
''It's probably one of the happiest days since before I met him
that I can remember," Carney said. ''Hopefully, justice is
served. I'm extremely happy because I know he's not. He deserved
Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer who has represented dozens of alleged
victims, said he was also cheered by Ryan's punishment. ''Hopefully,
his being defrocked will help victims heal and obtain at least some
degree of closure," Garabedian said.
Clohessy was more critical.
''This belated move doesn't relieve O'Malley of his moral duty
to warn families about and protect kids from these proven predators,"
he said in a statement. ''O'Malley has done little to effectively
reach out to others who were hurt by these abusers [or] to notify
neighbors or prospective employers about them.
''Any prudent person would assume that they are still dangerous,"
he said. ''While this may provide temporary relief for some, it
obviously neither heals the victims nor cures the molesters."
The priests had been accused of abuse dating back decades, and
their cases were among those that led to Law's resignation in 2002.
Forry, who lives in South Boston, beat and threatened his housekeeper
and had a long-term sexual relationship with a divorced woman whose
son he assaulted and molested, according to allegations contained
in church records.
When the boy's father initiated a complaint against the priest,
Forry told the father he would have him killed unless he dropped
his complaint, which the father did.
Four years ago, after the sexual-abuse crisis broke, a man attending
a Mass celebrated by Forry in Quincy recognized him as a priest
who had sexually abused him and his sister years earlier. The archdiocese
put Forry on leave that year.
Yesterday, a woman who answered the telephone at Forry's home said
he was not in and was not expected.
Tague, who was convicted in 1979 of stealing $30,000 from the halfway
house he ran and accused in 1971 of molesting a 16-year-old boy
under his care, said yesterday that his dismissal is ''a matter
of total irrelevance for me, and I have no interest in discussing
it with you or anybody else."
''I don't know why they bothered to make it public to begin with,"
he said. ''It's really not anybody's business."
Reached by phone yesterday, Buchette, who was ordained in 1957
and later accused of abuse, said, ''I'd just as soon not talk about
Tourigney was accused of abusing two children at Immaculate Conception
in the 1960s. Both cases were settled by the archdiocese for $35,000.
He could not be reached for comment, nor could Morrisette, who
was accused of molesting youths at St. Joseph's in Salem, where
he was associate pastor.
In February 2002, the archdiocese removed Finegan from St. Bernadette
parish in Randolph after church officials discovered he had been
accused of sexually molesting children in the past.
Crowley, ordained as a deacon in 1980, was convicted in 1999 of
raping two family members. He could not be reached.