Friday 23 March 2018

Vatican releases file on abuse suspect in show of good faith

Mark Hilliard

THE Vatican has taken the unusual step of publishing internal files on a priest accused of abuse in Ireland and the US in a bid to prove its lack of culpability.

Files on the late Rev Andrew Ronan were posted on the Vatican Radio website after a judge in Oregon ordered it to turn over documentation relating to the case.

The move was taken to support the Vatican's position that it was unaware of Fr Ronan's suspected abuse of the alleged victim, named as John V Doe, until after it had taken place.

In a statement released in conjunction with the documents, a lawyer for the Vatican, Jeffrey Lena, said the unusual step would help "calm down those people who are too quick to make sensational and unfair comments without taking the time to get an adequate understanding of the facts".


However, speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Lena said the remarks were not a personal attack on Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who recently criticised the Vatican for attempting to frustrate the reporting of abuse.

"My comments were not directed personally at him," Mr Lena said. "It was a reference to both lawyers and politicians but not a direct reference to Mr Kenny."

He said Mr Kenny's speech to the Dail "seemed intemperate".

In the case regarding Fr Ronan, the Vatican is arguing that it cannot be held to be the direct 'employer' of Fr Ronan, who was attached to the Order Frior Servants of Mary, nor can it be held accountable for his actions.

John V Doe is seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the alleged abuse.

The documents posted include a 1966 case file in which Fr Ronan requested to be laicised -- removed from his position as a priest -- after his superiors became aware of the accusations against him.

Mr Lena pointed out that the last claim of abuse against the priest was made in Oregon in November 1965. The Holy See became aware of Fr Ronan's request for laicisation the following year.

The Vatican's decision to publish the documents came following continued criticism of how it handled abuse claims in Ireland, from which it is still attempting to recover.

Irish Independent

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