Bishop Joseph Charron of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese says Pope Benedict XVI has approved his recommendation to remove two priests accused of sexual abuse. Diocese spokeswoman Ann Marie Cox says this means that Richard Wagner and John Ryan are no longer priests in the Diocese of Des Moines and may not “exercise priestly ministry, or identify themselves as priests.”
Cox says Ryan and Wagner have not been active priests since action against them began in the fall of 2003. Cox says Charron accepted a recommendation in September of 2003 from the allegation review committee that investigates allegations of sexual abuse by clergy. The committee found there were “credible allegations” against the two and recommended that they be removed from the priesthood. Cox says she is not aware of any other priests in the Des Moines Diocese that might face expulsion.
Cox says the committee continues to exists to hear allegations, and they have a Victim Assistance Advocate. Cox says to make a report or seek assistance, call advocate Jo Mulvihill at 515-286-2031, or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wagner had served as principal of Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines from 1971 to 1976. Allegations against him surfaced in 1993. They concerned abuse of a female high school student in the late 1980s, when Wagner was pastor at St. Mary Parish in Red Oak. Ryan was ordained in 1950 and retired in 1988. He was accused of molesting adolescent boys while he served at St. Theresa parish in Des Moines in the 1980s. Charron had recommended in 2003 a third priest, Albert Wilwerding, also be removed. Wilwerding died in 2004.