The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, August 17, 2011
SNAP comments on new records of Irish/US predator
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis,Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (+1-314-503-0003, [email protected])
The Vatican should be releasing records like this, promptly, about thousands of child molesting priests, nuns, bishops and seminarians. It should not wait until a court eventually forces it to do so.
It's clear that this is a desperate, last minute Vatican ploy to seem ever-so-slightly less recalcitrant than it has been for decades with clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
If anyone is tempted to see any kind of 'silver lining' in this, it's important to keep in mind that the highest echelons of the Catholic hierarchy have been fighting this disclosure for nine years. Sadly, despite pledges of openness, almost everything anyone learns about clergy sex crimes and cover ups comes in spite of continuing secrecy by top church officials.
We believe this is just a portion of the records the brave victim deserves, and a tiny portion of the records millions of Catholics deserve.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (+1-314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (+1-312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (+1-414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (+1-314-862-7688 home, +1-314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Vatican releases internal files on alleged abuser
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press
Associated Press August 17, 2011 07:07 AM
The Vatican, reeling from unprecedented criticism over its handling of sexual abuse cases in Ireland, took the unusual step Wednesday of publishing its internal files about a priest accused of molesting youngsters in Ireland and the U.S.
The files published on the website of Vatican Radio are part of the documentation the Holy See plans to turn over to U.S. lawyers representing a man who says he was abused by the late Rev. Andrew Ronan. The man, known in court papers as John V. Doe, is seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the abuse.
A federal judge in Portland, Oregon ordered the Vatican to respond to certain requests for information from Doe's lawyers by Friday, the first time the Holy See has been forced to turn over documentation in a sex abuse case. The documentation includes the 1966 case file with Ronan's request to be laicized, or removed from the clerical state, after his superiors learned of accusations that he had molested minors in Ireland.
The Vatican said Wednesday that the documentation culled from the Vatican's internal personnel files proved that it had only learned of the accusations against Ronan in 1966, after the abuse against Doe occurred.
The Vatican's decision to publish a selection of the discovery documentation on its website comes amid unprecedented criticism of its handling of sex abuse cases in Ireland, and as it still seeks to recover from the fallout over the abuse scandal that erupted last year. Thousands of people in Europe and elsewhere reported they were raped and molested by priests as children while bishops covered up the crimes and the Vatican turned a blind eye.
Last month, an independent report into the Irish diocese of Cloyne accused the Vatican of sabotaging efforts by Irish Catholic bishops to report clerical sex abuse cases to police. The accusations prompted Irish lawmakers to make an unprecedented denunciation of the Holy See's influence in the predominantly Catholic country, with heated words in particular from Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
In a statement accompanying the document release Wednesday, Vatican attorney Jeffrey Lena said the Vatican's documentation should 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" — an apparent reference to Kenny's denunciation.
The Vatican recalled its ambassador to Ireland over the ruckus to help prepare an official response, which is expected in the coming weeks.
According to the Holy See, the documentation released Wednesday includes the 1966 case file held by the Vatican's office for members of religious orders, known at the time as the Sacred Congregation for Religious, containing documents in English, Italian and Latin related to Ronan's request to be laicized.
The file contains a letter written by the Chicago-based provincial of the Order of Servants of Mary detailing accusations that Ronan had abused students while he was a teacher at the Servites' Our Lady of Benburb Priory in Ireland.
The provincial wrote that he had "removed" Ronan immediately from Ireland after discovering the abuse accusations in 1959. Ronan began working in Chicago and was later transferred to Portland. He died in 1992.
Lena said in a statement that the files show that the Holy See didn't learn of the accusations against Ronan until 1966, after the abuse against Doe occurred in Portland and after the laicization request was sent to Rome.
He said the Vatican was releasing "all known documents relating to Ronan held by the Roman Curia" to help the Oregon court determine the remaining jurisdictional question in the case: whether Ronan was an employee of the Holy See, which is critical to determining whether the Vatican can be held liable for the abuse Doe endured.
None of the documents released Wednesday relate directly to that core employment question. Rather, they support the Vatican's contention that it had no prior knowledge of Ronan's crimes before 1966, that it wasn't responsible for transferring him to the U.S. or to Portland, and isn't liable for the abuse Doe suffered.
Lena said Doe's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, never had any evidence to support his "calumnious accusations" that the Vatican itself had transferred Ronan to Portland while knowing that he posed a danger to minors.
Doe's lawyers, Lena said "have nonetheless chosen to misuse the legal system as a vehicle to pursue a broader agenda — a decision that has misled the public and wasted considerable resources."
Anderson has filed hundreds of lawsuits against priests and dioceses in the U.S. concerning priestly sex abuse; in addition to the Portland case he has named the Holy See as a defendant in two other U.S. lawsuits, in Milwaukee and Chicago.
Email requests seeking comment from Anderson weren't immediately returned.
Vatican documentation is at: www.radiovaticana.va/pdf/documents_Doe_v_Holy_See.pdf
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests