Supreme Court rejects Vatican sex abuse appeal

7:29 PM, Jun 28, 2010   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A law firm known for suing the Catholic Church over allegations of clergy sex abuse says they have won a round from the nation's highest court.

High Court refused to hear appeal

Mike Finnegan of Jeff Anderson and Associates said Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the Vatican on a case involving a priest and a man in Portland, Oregon identified only as John V. Doe. The lack of attention from the high court effective sends the case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for further action.

In 2006, the 9th Circuit denied the Vatican's contention that Anderson's demands for documents and lists of abusing priests was not legal because the Vatican has immunity as a sovereign state. The original case was filed in 2002 in Portland. Monday's ruling means Anderson is free to begin legal "discovery", a search for the documents and materials that were sought in the original case.

Accused priest is dead

The accused priest, Fr. Andrew Ronan, died in 1992. Finnegan said Ronan began molesting in Ireland.

"In the 1950's, he was caught sexually abusing seminarians in Ireland. He was moved, once he got caught there, moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he was again caught sexually molesting children in a high school in Chicago. After he was caught there, he was moved to Portland, Oregon where he sexually molested our client, John V. Doe, as a minor and was caught yet again," said Finnegan.

Would Pope be called to testify?

Finnegan said the U.S. Supreme Court's denial of a hearing on the Vatican's appeal is a victory. As to whether Anderson would try to take testimony from the Pope under oath, Finnegan was direct. "It is our hope that before we ever get to any deposition that he comes clean and voluntarily comes clean about his role in this case and cases like this, including his role in the cases in Germany," said Finnegan.

Pope Benedict XVI was a bishop in Germany prior to his elevation to Pontiff. He was also head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that oversees priests.

Wants "concrete actions"

Finnegan said that his client wants three items of "concrete action" from the Vatican. First the release of "secret documents" of the abuses. Second, a list of priests who have been sexual abusers of children and third, the immediate removal of all clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors.

There has been no immediate reaction from the Vatican on Monday's court developments and Finnegan's remarks.

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