Friday, August 19, 2011

Vatican Posts Some Files of Accused Priest Online In Advance of Producing Them In Discovery

A Portland, Oregon federal district court judge has ordered the Vatican to turn certain documents over to plaintiff's lawyers by today in a lawsuit in which a victim of priest sexual abuse is attempting to hold the Holy See vicariously liable for the action of a now deceased priest.  Various other theories for holding the Vatican liable for the abuse by Rev. Andrew Ronan were dismissed. (See prior posting.)  USA Today reports that in a pre-emptive move on Wednesday, the Vatican posted online (full text) some of the internal files on Ronan.  In posting the document, the Vatican's lawyer said:
The federal courts have dismissed most of the Doe lawsuit. Today, to assist the Oregon federal district court in resolving the sole remaining jurisdictional issue in the case, the Holy See is releasing all known documents relating to Ronan held by the Roman Curia.
Like other documents previously produced by the Servite Order and the Portland Archdiocese, these newly-released documents show that the plaintiff’s lawyers’ long-standing accusations against the Holy See are false. The Holy See was not involved in Ronan’s transfers, including the transfer to Portland, and had no prior knowledge that Ronan posed a danger to minors. Instead, the documents confirm that the Servite Order first informed the Holy See of Ronan’s misconduct when Ronan petitioned for laicization in February 1966 – after the plaintiff’s abuse – and that the Holy See granted the petition for laicization just weeks later.
The plaintiff’s lawyers never had support for their calumnious accusations against the Holy See. They 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.
Notwithstanding the plaintiff’s lawyers’ regrettable conduct, it is important to remember that any abuse suffered by this plaintiff, or any other victim of sexual abuse, is deplorable.