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Catholic World News

Vatican releases dossier, rejects accusations in Oregon abuse lawsuit

August 17, 2011

In a highly unusual move, the Vatican has issued a public response to an Oregon lawsuit that alleges the Holy See bears responsibility for sexual abuse by a Servite priest.

In the case of Doe v. Holy See, the plaintiff's lawyer claims that the Vatican arranged quiet transfers for Andrew Ronan, a Servite priest who had compiled a long history of sexual abuse. "Those would of course be very serious accusations--if true," the Vatican acknowledged. However, the Vatican statement continues, Vatican officials were not aware of Ronan's misbehavior until after the fact.

To support its argument, the Vatican has released its entire dossier of documents on the Ronan case, showing that the Holy See was informed about the priest's abuse only in 1966, when he applied for--and was promptly granted--laicization. The plaintiff in the Oregon case was abused in 1965, before the Vatican was made aware of the Ronan's case.

Jeffrey Lena, the American lawyer representing the Holy See in federal court in this case, said that the accusations against the Holy See are not only false but "calumnious." He charged that the plaintiff's lawyers "have nonetheless chosen to misuse the legal system as a vehicle to pursue a broader agenda--a decision that has misled the public and wasted considerable resources."


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