The Radio France Internationale (French) website reports today (June 29, 2010) that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by the Vatican for immunity in a high-profile pedophile case. The refusal is a blow to the Holy See, as it tries to protect itself from a number of sex-abuse cases.
The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case will allow the trial of a lower court suit filed in 2002 by a plaintiff who was abused several times as a teenager by an alleged pedophile priest, Fr. Andrew Ronan, in Portland, Oregon.
Before being accused of the offenses in the United States, Ronan -- who died in 1992 -- allegedly sexually molested children in Ireland and Chicago.
The Vatican wanted the federal courts to throw out a lawsuit that sought to hold the Roman Catholic Church responsible for moving Ronan from Ireland to Chicago and then to Portland, despite the sex abuse accusations. The Vatican claimed immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976.
However, the Supreme Court rejected the Church's claim that it enjoys "sovereign immunity." Consequently, the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case provides survivors of sexual abuse with more leverage in obtaining justice and truth about the complicity of Vatican leaders in covering up the criminal acts of Catholic priests.