Vatican Releases Documents on US Abuse Case

Denies Accusations of Negligence Regarding Servite Father

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2011 ( A Vatican spokesman is flatly denying two accusations of negligence in handling the 1965 sexual abuse case of Andrew Ronan in Oregon, and is releasing the documents to prove it.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said in a statement today that the Holy See is contesting the assertion that the Vatican knew that Father Andrew Ronan was an abuser, and that, knowing of his past abuse, the Holy See transferred the priest from one location to another.

Ronan was a member of the Servite Fathers, and he and his order appealed to the Vatican for his laicization, which was was granted in 1966. He died in 1992.

The current case in Oregon — Doe v. Holy See — concerns accusations of abuse against a 17 year old in Portland, Oregon, in 1965. The plaintiff claims that Ronan was an employee of the Vatican, and is suing the Holy See for negligence.

«While most of the case has been dismissed,» Father Lombardi said, «two accusations made by plaintiff’s attorneys have persisted and have been repeatedly reported in the press: that the Holy See knew that Ronan was an abuser; and that the Holy See transferred Ronan from one place to another with that knowledge.» 

«Those would of course be very serious accusations — if true,» the priest added. «But, as we are learning with the development of the case, the accusations are decidedly not true.»

The note added a link to 70 pages of documentation «to assist those in the public who wish to study the matter carefully, and to assist the United States court in resolving the remaining issues in the case.»

Jeffrey Lena, who represents the Holy See in the Oregon case, told Vatican Radio: «While the judicial system sometimes works slowly, these documents can be expected to be of assistance in bringing the case to a more rapid conclusion.»

He added that the release of the documents should, «give pause to those persons, who all too willingly engage in sensational and intemperate comment without bothering to acquire a sound grasp of the facts.»

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