SCOTUS: Vatican Can Be Sued For Former Chicago Priest Abuser

By Prescott Carlson in News on Jun 28, 2010 8:20PM

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Photo by Cris Pierry
The U.S Supreme Court is having a productive Monday -- besides taking on Chicago's gun ban, the court also ruled that a lawsuit against the Vatican by a sexual abuse victim can move forward. The suit, filed by St. Paul, Minnesota, attorney Jeff Anderson on behalf of an anonymous plaintiff, claims that the Holy See is accountable for sexual abuse by one of its former priests, Andrew Ronan, who admitted to abusing teens at St. Philip's High School in Chicago as well as another school in Ireland before being transferred to St. Albert's Parish in Portland, Oregon, where he abused the John Doe named in the lawsuit. Anderson contends that Ronan was an employee of the Vatican, and that it is liable for the abuse. Ronan died in 1992.

Anderson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that the ruling was a "breakthrough" and "really, really huge," adding, "We've kicked down the iron gates that [the Catholic Church has] been hiding behind all these years." Anderson thinks the suit may even lead to a deposition with Pope Benedict.

Anderson first filed the suit in 2002, and a judge ruled that Ronan was indeed a Vatican employee based on Oregon law, a ruling later supported by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement about Monday's Supreme Court ruling calling it a "crucial step forward towards healthier public understanding of the depth of church corruption."