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8 Boston Clergymen are Dismissed by the Vatican

Boston-area clerics accused of sexually abusing children

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 priest.

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," Clohessy said.

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 in Boston.

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 it."

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 it."

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.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests