Published December 23, 2015
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court won't stop a lawsuit that accuses the Vatican of transferring a priest from city to city despite repeated accusations of sexual abuse.
The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from the Holy See, the legal name for the Vatican.
The Vatican wanted the federal courts to throw out the lawsuit that seeks to hold the Roman Catholic Church responsible for moving the Rev. Andrew Ronan from Ireland to Chicago to Portland despite the sex abuse accusations.
Sovereign immunity laws hold that a sovereign state -- including the Vatican -- is generally immune from lawsuits.
But lower federal courts have ruled in this case that there could be an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act that could affect the Vatican. A judge ruled there was enough of a connection between the Vatican and Ronan for him to be considered a Vatican employee under Oregon law, and that ruling was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento.
According to court documents, Ronan began abusing boys in the mid-1950s as a priest in the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland. He was transferred to Chicago, where he admitted to abusing three boys at St. Philip's High School.
Ronan was later moved to St. Albert's Church in Portland, Ore., where he was accused of abusing the person who filed the lawsuit now under appeal. Ronan died in 1992.