.- Demands for face-to-face questioning of Vatican officials were denied by a federal judge in a case involving a Washington man who claims he was abused by a priest in the 1960s.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled on Dec. 1 that prosecutors have yet to produce enough evidence to justify the need for personal testimony from members of the Holy See.
An anonymous 63-year-old plaintiff from Washington filed suit against the Vatican in 2002, several decades after Fr. Andrew Ronan—an Irish priest with a record of sexually abusing minors—was transferred from Ireland to the U.S. and eventually moved to Portland, Oregon.
Fr. Ronan, a Servite priest from the Friar Servants of Mary, died in 1992.
In the case of John V. Doe v. Holy See, the plaintiff claims he was abused by Fr. Ronan several times in 1965. His lawsuit against the Vatican and the priest's order charges that the Catholic Church was responsible for transferring the priest and conspiring to cover up the allegations.
The plaintiff's lawyers have attempted to circumvent the Vatican's sovereign immunity by arguing that the Holy See was effectively Fr. Ronan's employer.
However, Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena has maintained since 2002 that Doe and his lawyers have not provided evidence the Vatican moved the priest or had any control over him.
The Vatican released internal files online on Aug. 17 of this year showing that despite prosecutors' claims, it had no prior knowledge of the Irish priest's history of abuse before he was sent to the U.S. in the 1960s.
After reviewing the documents, however, the accuser's attorney's claimed that face-to-face questioning of Vatican officials was necessary.
Lena said in August that the plaintiff’s lawyers have “never had support for their calumnious accusations” that the Holy See transferred a priest it knew was abusive.
“They 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,” he said.