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Oregon judge orders Vatican to answer queries in sex-abuse lawsuit

April 22, 2011

A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that the Vatican must answer questions posed by the plaintiff in a sex-abuse suit.

Judge Michael Mosman granted “limited discovery,” ordering the Vatican to produce evidence showing whether or not the late Father Andrew Ronan, the accused abuser, was a Vatican employee.

The Vatican has informed the federal court that a priest’s behavior is supervised by the local diocese, not by the Holy See. The attorney representing the Vatican, Jeffrey Lena, also points out that the Vatican was unaware of complaints against Ronan until after the reported abuse took place.

Nevertheless, Judge Mosman said in his rulling that the plaintiff had “proffered evidence that tends to show the Holy See knew of Ronan’s propensities and that in some cases, the Holy See exercised direct control over the conduct, placement, and removal of individual priests accused of similar sexual misconduct.”

The plaintiff’s attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, has been striving to include the Vatican as a defendant in a sex-abuse lawsuit. To date he has been unsuccessful. The Oregon court ruling addresses the question of whether the Vatican can be held responsible for a priest's assignments--which are made by diocesan officials.


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  • Posted by: DrJazz - Apr. 22, 2011 7:29 PM ET USA

    In related news, I just ordered the Chinese government to stop persecuting Catholics. I think Judge Mosman and I both have solid understandings of our respective levels of importance in the world.

  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Apr. 22, 2011 2:04 PM ET USA

    "[H]as ruled that the Vatican must ... " Some judge in Oregon (!) thinks he has jurisdiction over the Vatican, a sovereign state? LOL!! I'm sure that the Vatican will jump right to it.