Thanks to CNS for this story:
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined an immunity appeal by the Holy See in a case that attempts to sue the Vatican for transferring a priest accused of sexually abusing a minors several decades ago. The ruling by the Supreme Court allows the case to move forward.
An anonymous plaintiff from Oregon filed suit against the Vatican in 2002 after Fr. Andrew Ronan, an Irish priest with a history of sexually abusing minors, was transferred from Ireland to the U.S. and eventually moved to the Portland, Oregon. According to Reuters news agency, Fr. Ronan died in 1992.
The plaintiff says he was abused by Fr. Ronan several times in the mid 1960s and has filed suit against the Vatican, charging that the Catholic Church is responsible for transferring the priest and conspiring to cover up the allegations. The plaintiff has also charged that the priest in question was an employee of the Holy See, thus indicating that the responsibility for the alleged sex abuse belongs to the Vatican.
Jeffrey Lena, U.S. lawyer for the Vatican, clarified in remarks to CNA on June 28 that the “effect of the Supreme Court's decision is to cause the case to return to the district court in Oregon, where the additional remaining defenses will be heard.”
Lena stressed that the ruling “is not a comment” on the merits of the case.
The plaintiff, he explained, “currently has one jurisdictional theory left. That theory is that the priest who committed the abuse was an 'employee' of the Holy See.”
“We will, of course, point out to the district court that the priest in question is not an employee of the Holy See, and that, therefore, the district court does not have jurisdiction over the case.”
“In our view the indicia of employment simply are not present,” he added. “The Holy See does not pay the salary of the priest, or benefits of the priest, or exercise day-to-day control over the priest, and any of the other factors indicating the presence of an employment relationship.”
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