Catholic priest from the Fens steps down following historic child sex abuse claims

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:37 31 March 2020

Our Lady of Good Counsel and St Peter Roman Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Good Counsel and St Peter Roman Catholic Church.


A Roman Catholic priest from March has voluntarily stepped down while he is investigated for historic child sex abuse claims relating to his former ministry in Peru.

A statement released by Bishop Alan Hopes and the Diocese of East Anglia on Friday (March 20) explains Father Michael Ryan had recently been accused of the non-recent sexual abuse of children.

It says he voluntarily stepped down from his responsibilities while the investigation is ongoing and that the accusations have been reported to the relevant authorities, including police.

The statement, uploaded to the Catholic Church in March website, reads: “Whilst the investigation is ongoing, Father Ryan has voluntarily withdrawn from all public ministry.

“This is a neutral act which makes no judgement on his guilt or innocence and is in keeping with the national safeguarding policies and procedures of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“I would like to affirm that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people is of paramount importance to the Catholic Church and the Diocese is co-operating fully with the statutory authorities in this investigation.”

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Father Ryan was serving the parish for Our Lady of Good Counsel & St Peter in St John’s Road, March. Mass services were also held at St Peter & St Paul’s Anglican church in Chatteris.

The statement continues: “I know that this must have come as a shock to you all, but I would ask you to keep all who are involved this ongoing investigation, including Father Ryan in your prayers.

“It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comments at the present but please be assured of my prayers for you all at this time.”

According to the Diocese website, Father Ryan was ordained on September 12, 1981. He was installed as the parish priest of Our Lady of Good Counsel & St Peter in November 2018.

He was installed as the parish priest of Our Lady of Good Counsel & St Peter in November 2018. Bishop Hopes attended the ceremony alongside representatives from across the Fenland community.

As temporary measure, the Parish of March & Chatteris is under the care of the Parish of St. Luke Peterborough.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We can confirm we are investigating allegations of non-recent sexual abuse. Enquiries are on-going. No arrests have been made at this stage.”

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