By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
A ruling on Thursday from a federal judge in Oregon marks the first time that an American court has ever issued an order requiring the Vatican to hand over documents in a sex abuse case.
Whether that actually happens, however, depends on how the Vatican responds, including whether it tries to persuade either the Oregon judge or an appeals court that it shouldn’t have to comply.
U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman on Thursday granted a limited number of requests for discovery put forward by attorney Jeffrey Anderson, representing a man who says he was abused by Andrew Ronan, a former Servite priest who was laicized in 1966 and who died in 1992.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the main advocacy group in the United States for victims of clerical abuse, hailed the order as a “historic achievement.”
“Many clergy sex abuse victims are distraught that thousands of Catholic officials who ignore and conceal heinous crimes escape any consequences for their corruption,” said a statement from Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, California, the western regional director of SNAP.