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Sex Abuse Victims Urge Catholic Group Not to Appeal New RulingTim King Salem-News.com
9th Circuit Court Judges' decision lets controversial case against Vatican proceed.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Victims of clergy sex abuse blasted Catholic officials in Portland today for "playing legal hardball" in what they describe as a controversial and ground-breaking clergy sex abuse and cover up case
Bill Crane with SNAP (Survivors Network of people Abused by Priests) says his group, which has seen significant legal victories over the Catholic Church's conduct regarding sexual abuse in the recent past, urges those officials in this case to let an alleged child sex abuse victim known as "John Doe" have his "day in court" against the Vatican.
Along with other advocates, Crane is asking the church to not appeal the new Portland appeals court ruling that lets the victim's case move forward, stop fighting the victim by "exploiting legal technicalities and delay maneuvers," and to start aggressively reaching out to others who may have been hurt by the predator.
Crane and other members of SNAP and their supporters gathered today at 11:00 a.m. outside the chancery or diocesan headquarters at 2838 E Burnside Street in Portland.
Crane explains that on Tuesday, a three judge federal appeals panel in Portland ruled that an alleged clergy sex abuse victim can sue the Vatican. (It’s the first time in history that an individual victim has won this right.)
The accused predator is Father Andrew Ronan, who admitted in the 1960s that he molested three boys at a Chicago Catholic school, according to reports.
"He was then sent to The Grotto, a shrine at Northeast 85th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard in Portland. At least two individuals report having been molested by him in Oregon," Crane said. (see: bishop-accountability.org/news)
"Let us remember that Bishop Vlazny lied publicly in 2004 while admitting under oath during the John Jay Criminal Investigation that there was only 37 abusive priests in the history of the Portland Archdiocese," Crane said.
During bankruptcy proceedings in 2006, when the courts ordered documents to be open, the number of abusive priests rose to over 137.
"It is only when victims come forward through the courts to we have truth and transparency of this on going cover up and scandal in the Portland Archdiocese under the leadership of Bishop Vlazny," Crane added. (see: Oregon Sex Abuse Victims in Catholic Church Scandal Awarded Over $50 Million (VIDEO) - Tim King Salem-News.com )
Victims like Crane say that in a rigid hierarchy like the Catholic church, decisions come from the Vatican, so Crane says Rome should be held responsible for on-going cover ups of clergy sex crimes.
"They believe the case will help prevent future child assaults and cover ups of those assaults. And they charge that the Pope has a duty to 'reign in' his defense lawyer, stop the delaying tactics, and honor his own admonition (given last spring in the US) to 'do everything possible' to help child sex abuse victims heal."
Crane told Salem-News today that the court ruling is a landmark decision. A stumbling block for the legal system has been the Church's chartable immunity, Crane says, "If we get that door open we will see a floodgate open."
"If this goes in front of the Supreme Court and is supported, Crane says Vatican officials will be subpoenaed to America then you will see a similar thing to what happened here in cases where the law has actually worked on behalf of the victims," Crane said.
The story here in Portland as Crane explains, was the recent visit of Pope Benedict here last Fall. The Pope talked about the seriousness of the crimes here in the U.S.
"Right, and then he goes back to Rome and is fighting this case here with his attorneys, spending plenty of money and investing lots of resources."
"There are millions of dollars that have been spent to translate the documents into English from Latin; that took a couple of years with the translation, and now it is time to move this along."
Crane says the Pope's providing money to see that the case does not go through is deplorable. "We want Vlazny to make a public appeal to the pope, to let this go through and be a part of the solution and not the problem."
KXL Radio and the Oregonian Newspaper attended the gathering and press conference with SNAP today in Portland. Crane says that is encouraging, as the media has largely left this subject alone over the past two years.
SNAP is also asking the Servites (a Chicago-based international Catholic religious order which is a defendant in the case and that was Ronan's direct employer/supervisor) to stop "exploiting legal technicalities" and let the case proceed, especially because it has already dragged on for seven years.
The group also wants Portland Archbishop John Vlazny to use his considerable resources (websites, archdiocesan newspaper, parish bulletins) to more aggressively reach out to others who have been hurt by Ronan and other clerics. They also want him to lean on the Servites and the Vatican and cause them to "stop playing legal hardball."
Ronan was laicized (or defrocked) in 1966 and he died in 1992. (see: archdiocesedocuments.org)
I interviewed Bill Crane and Father John Shuster, a married Roman Catholic Priest, about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in a special Salem-News.com interview one year ago. That is available at this link: Catholic Priest Sex Abuse Network Calls Secrecy and Pedophilia Rampant (VIDEO) - Tim King Salem-News.com
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