Bishop Joseph Charron of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines says he has received and accepted the recommendation of the review committee that looked into sexual abuse allegations against priests. He says the committee recommended that three priests be permanently removed from ministry and dismissed from the priesthood, and the priests have agreed to cooperate. All three of the priests had been serving some type of suspension or altered duties under the old rules for dealing with sexual abuse. The dismissals are part of the Catholic Church’s new sexual abuse policy, and Charron says he never considered going against the committee recommendation.He says he read their report, met with the entire committee and asked some questions to clarify the issues. He says he then decided not to second-guess their recommendation. Charron was asked if it was tough to make the decision.He says there’s a difference in his mind between a decision that has to be made, and the personal pain of implementing the decision. He says it was difficult, but once he read and accepted the recommendations, then it was clear to him it was something he had to do. Bishop Charron says he believes the Catholic Church will be able to move forward after addressing the issue. He says the past year and a half has been very trying for the church and those who’ve been hurt by its ministers. Charron says this is not the first time the church has struggled with a difficult issue and he says they always believe that God will be with them. Charron asks for everyone’s prayers in helping the church move ahead, and says they ask God to forgive them and help the church “become a stronger, more compassionate people of faith.” Charron was asked if he’s concerned these cases are only the tip of a larger problem.He says they’ve dealt with all the cases they know about, but after the public announcement of the action, you wait to see if more people come forward. Charron says they want anyone who’s been harmed to contact authorities.Charron says part of the purpose of the public announcement is to let others know they should come forward. Charron says the dismissal of the priests does not settle all the issues surrounding the cases. He says they’re dealing with the possibility of financial settlements, and he says they’re not dealing with any lawsuits, but there’s and indication there could be lawsuits. Charron says there’s still one allegation of abuse under investigation by the review committee. The three priests who are being dismissed from the priesthood are: Father Albert Wilwerding, who served parishes in Des Moines, Westphalia, Atlantic, Council Bluffs, Perry, Portsmouth and Shenandoah; Father John Ryan who served in Portsmouth and Des Moines; Father Richard Wagner, who served in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Harlan, Council Bluffs and Red Oak.
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