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Fort Wayne Priest Accused Of Sexual Abuse

Last updated on Thursday, June 20, 2013

(FORT WAYNE) - A Catholic priest who took over a Fort Wayne parish after its pastor was accused of sexually abusing a minor has been removed from public ministry himself for allegedly abusing a minor in Africa some 20 years ago.

Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhodes took the action June 10 against the Rev. Cornelius Ryan after being notified of "a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor" by the South Bend-based U.S. Province of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the diocese said in a statement released Wednesday.

"Bishop Rhoades was advised that the abuse is claimed to have taken place approximately twenty years ago in Africa, where Father Ryan then served," the diocese said.

"In accord with the laws of the Church, Father Ryan has been removed from public ministry. The Congregation of Holy Cross is handling this matter according to its policies and the Church's norms," the statement said.

The statement did not include any details of the alleged abuse or where in Africa it occurred, and it referred requests for additional information to the congregation. A telephone message seeking additional information and comment was left with the congregation's South Bend office.

Ryan had been serving as administrator of St. Joseph Catholic Church-Hessen Cassel in Fort Wayne after the diocese removed its pastor, the Rev. Thom Lombardi, in December 2011 because of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor at a previous parish, The News-Sentinel reported.

Rhoades informed St. Joseph parishioners about the situation through a letter read after Masses last Saturday and Sunday, the News-Sentinel said.

Lombardi's case currently is being reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, but no decision has been made, Sean McBride, a diocesan spokesman, told the newspaper.

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