Convicted paedophile Vincent Ryan confessed to a priest — then he continued abusing children

ABCNews Revelation Sarah Ferguson
Title: Convicted paedophile Vincent Ryan confessed to a priest — then he continued abusing children

Author:  Sarah Ferguson

Publisher: ABC News

Date: 17MAR2020

Vincent Ryan is a Catholic priest and a paedophile, convicted of sexually abusing more than 30 children. In Australia’s first television interview with a convicted clerical sex abuser, Ryan said there was no reason why he should not remain a priest.

“It’s a duty. I’ve committed myself to it,” he said. “It’d have to be a very serious reason, unless I’m stopped by authority, for me to make that decision and at this moment I don’t see it.”

In the ABC’s Revelation series, filmed on the eve of Ryan’s 2019 criminal trial, the paedophile priest is seen performing mass in his home, wearing holy vestments and blessing the communion wine and bread.

Following his fourth conviction in March 2019 on charges of sexually abusing two boys in the Newcastle region in the 1970s and 1980s, Ryan, 81, is currently serving a prison sentence in NSW of three years and three months.

‘I will have a conscience problem’

Survivors of Ryan’s abuse have condemned the Church’s failure to remove Ryan from the priesthood. Peter Dorn was a victim of Ryan’s as a primary school boy in Maitland in the 1970s.

“How does the church want somebody like that? How did they say that’s a person acting on behalf of God? They’ve got no decency, they’ve got no compassion,” Dorn said. “They say they have acknowledged it, but if they still recognise him as a priest, you know that’s disgraceful.”

When Ryan was first arrested in 1995, the church withdrew his “faculties”, meaning he was no longer able to perform religious duties in public, hear confession or call himself “father”.

However, he remained a priest and can still say the Catholic mass in private.

The current bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Bill Wright, told the ABC in August last year that he had written to the Vatican about Ryan’s status.

“The full range of things that have come to light and considerations of the time, all of these things are as matters of fact in what I’ve sent to Rome,” the Bishop said. “So they’ve been raised.”

Bishop Wright confirmed on Sunday in a letter to parishioners that he had received no response from Pope Francis or the Vatican about Ryan.

Ryan questioned whether he would in any case accept a decision to remove him from the priesthood and no longer say mass.

“I will have a real quandary, because I will want to obey the church, but I will have a conscience problem. I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said.

Penance was ‘three Hail Marys and a decade of the Rosary’

Gerald McDonald is another of Ryan’s victims. He was assaulted while an altar boy with Ryan in Merewether in the 1970s and said he felt by allowing Ryan to remain a priest, the church was “condoning a paedophile”.

“It makes me sick … That’s exactly what they’re doing,” he said.

Ryan enjoyed the protection of the church in multiple ways during the decades of his offending against children, including taking advantage of the secrecy of confession. Ryan told the ABC that he confessed to a priest that he was sexually assaulting children,

“I don’t know the exact words, but they would have been aware that I … that I had offended against children because … I can remember one priest saying, ‘you’ll go to jail if you don’t stop this’,” he said.

Ryan said he knew the priest would not break the seal of confession.

“How could he follow up the seal of confession? What can he do?” said Ryan, who claimed his penance was “three Hail Marys and a decade of the Rosary”.

Ryan said he felt better having been given absolution for his sins by the priest. “Momentarily I felt free, yes,” he said.

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