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Spotlight Report

Monsignor Ryan resigns over suits

Parishioners are notified by mail; he asks for forgiveness

By Steven Wilmsen, Globe Staff, 4/28/2002

KINGSTON - In an emotional resignation letter to his former parishioners, accused sex offender Monsignor Frederick J. Ryan asked forgiveness of anyone he may have ''injured,'' but made no mention of guilt or innocence in connection with allegations he molested three teenage boys 20 years ago.

In the letter, which is dated April 24 and arrived in most parishioners' mailboxes today, Ryan said he asked Cardinal Bernard F. Law to accept his resignation ''so that the parish may have the stability of leadership and daily pastoral care that I am not able to give at this time.''

Ryan had been placed on administrative leave in late March after Gary M. Garland, a former star athlete at Catholic Memorial High School in Boston, filed a lawsuit alleging that Ryan molested him nearly two decades ago when he was about 14 years old.

About two weeks after Garland's suit, a second former Catholic Memorial High School student, David E. Carney of Boston, filed another lawsuit accusing Ryan of molesting him and a friend in 1979. With those charges, Ryan, who was a vice chancellor of the Boston Archdiocese at the time the alleged abuse took place, became the highest-ranking official in the archdiocese to be accused of sexually abusing minors.

''With my need to free myself to concentrate on the legal process into which I've been placed, it seems best that a full-time pastor be appointed as soon as possible,'' Ryan wrote in his one-page letter to parishioners.

''I love each and every member of St. Joseph Parish, and the people of the towns whom we serve,'' he continued. ''If I have injured anyone in any way, I ask your forgiveness.''

Church officials said yesterday that Ryan was not asked to resign but that Law would accept the resignation ''forthwith.''

Garland, who was arrested late last month after attempting to confront Ryan, declined to comment yesterday.

Garland's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said, ''I have spoken to Gary, and he is extremely pleased to learn that Monsignor Ryan has offered his resignation.'' But he added that Garland still wants Ryan to confess publicly.

Meanwhile, parishioners at St. Joseph attending an evening Mass yesterday said they are saddened by Ryan's departure.

''I feel very badly about the whole thing,'' said Bill Twoling, a member of the parish for 30 years. ''The man being described in these allegations is not the man I know. He resigned reluctantly, I think. He realized he'd become an obstacle and that he didn't have a choice.''

During yesterday's Mass, the Rev. Robert Kickham, assigned temporarily to the parish to take Ryan's place, asked parishioners to pray for Ryan's guidance.

''Obviously, it's been a difficult situation here,'' he said afterward. ''We would want to pray for guidance for anyone who found themselves in a difficult situation.''

This story ran on page A25 of the Boston Globe on 4/28/2002.
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