Thursday, March 05, 2009

Benedict XVI & Vatican can be sued for clergy abuse,

Benedict XVI and his Latin Opus Dei eunuchs' Vatican days are numbered. Ever since the GISU Galileo Iceberg of Sapienza UNiversity last year, the Achilles Heel of John Paul II the Great is crying out to Heaven for vengeance. The cry of the poor of the Jesuit Jon Sobrino is also crying out to Heaven for justice because the Opus Dei Bishop of El Salvador silenced him from serving the poor he loves. Those Opus Dei are the new Pharisees of the 21st century, self-righteous with their Latin drug ecstasy.

Court tells St. Paul lawyer: Vatican can be sued for clergy abuse

By Paul Walsh, Star Tribune

Last update: March 4, 2009 - 10:24 AM
The Vatican can be sued for damages connected to clergy abuse allegations, a federal appeals court has ruled in a case argued by a St. Paul law firm.

The unanimous decision Tuesday by a three-judge panel in Portland, Ore., comes in the case of the Rev. Andrew Ronan, who committed the alleged abuse of a teenage boy in the 1960s. Ronan died in 1992.

"In a rigid hierarchy like the Catholic church, decisions come from Rome, so it's crucial that Rome be held responsible for on-going cover ups of clergy sex crimes," said attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents the unnamed plaintiff in this case and whose firm has handled many other cases of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.

"This ruling sends a clear signal that anyone who enables American kids to be molested will face legal consequences," Anderson added. "It will help prevent future child assaults and cover ups of those assaults. It also signals that the Vatican is not above the law."

According to court documents, Ronan began abusing boys in the mid-1950s as a priest in Ireland. He was transferred to Chicago, where he admitted to abusing three boys at St. Philip's High School. He was then moved to St. Albert's Church in Portland, where he was accused of abusing the victim whose suit is now under appeal.

Tuesday's ruling affirms what Portland-based U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman wrote in 2006 that "the Holy See is not immune from suit" in a case involving a priest with "dangerous proclivities."

The defense had contended that the Vatican is protected from civil action under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Jeffrey Lena, a California attorney for the Holy See, noted that the appeals court ruling was the collective opinion of the appeals court rather than a single opinion, yet was accompanied by individual dissenting and concurring opinions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482


St. Paul lawyer takes on Vatican


Last update: March 4, 2009 - 8:58 PM
A federal Appeals Court says the Vatican can be sued for sexual abuse if it knowingly reassigns priests who have been accused of such acts in their previous parishes.

"This decision kicks the door open for the survivors of these sexual predators to seek some measure of justice and to hold the Vatican responsible for its role in allowing these priests to continue their pattern of abuse," said Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul attorney who filed the suit.

The decision, announced Wednesday morning, was issued late Tuesday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Oregon. It upholds a ruling made by a Portland trial court. Anderson, an expert in priest abuse cases, filed the suit in Oregon because that's where the alleged abuse took place.

The Roman Catholic Church has 90 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The next move is up to the Vatican," said Marci Hamilton, a professor at the Cardoza School of Law in New York City and a constitutional scholar whom Anderson brought on to help with the appeal. "We're either going to the Supreme Court or back to the trial court. Either way, we're ready."

Whatever happens, Anderson expects it to happen quickly.

"The Holy See filed an appeal [of the trial court decision] within 24 hours," he said.

The suit was filed in 2002 for an unnamed 49-year-old man who alleges he was sexually abused as a teenager by the Rev. Andrew Ronan. Ronan died in 1969. After uncovering evidence that Ronan had been reassigned after being accused of similar abuses in parishes in Chicago and Ireland, Anderson argued that the topmost level of the church should be held liable for damages because it is a hierarchy in which decisions flow down from the Vatican.

"The Vatican should be held responsible for the misdeeds of its employees," he said. "The church knew that he was an offender and had a proclivity to harm again, but his superiors chose not to stop him."

Pope Benedict is not being sued. The suit names the church as the defendant, but the pope could be deposed if the case reaches trial.

"It's time that the Vatican finally is held accountable for its role in this scandal," Anderson said. "For decades, they've issued instructions, they've issued protocol that has allowed priests to be moved across state lines and even international boundaries" after they've been accused of abuse.

The ruling applies only in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court, which includes the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii. A similar case is being argued in Kansas City, but other victims likely will wait to see how this case is resolved, he said.

The ruling is "persuasive but not binding," in other courts, Anderson said. "But with a good chance of going to the Supreme Court, it's going to end up touching every state."

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392


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