Federal appeals court upholds ruling Vatican can be sued over abuse

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco March 3 upheld a 2006 lower court ruling that the Vatican is not entitled to sovereign immunity from a clergy sex abuse lawsuit that named it as a defendant. But it narrowed the extent of that ruling by remanding the case to the lower court “for further proceedings” before the suit against the Vatican can go forward.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit issued the decision on a June 7, 2006, ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman in Portland, Ore.

The case before the court, John V. Doe v. Holy See, was first filed in Portland in April 2002. It involves claims that the victim, identified only as John V. Doe, was sexually abused in Portland in 1965 or 1966, at the age of 15 or 16, by Servite Father Andrew M. Ronan, who was then stationed at his order’s Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother in Portland. He was laicized in 1966 and allegedly had previously admitted to sexually abusing children at earlier postings in Ireland and in Chicago. He died in 1992.

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