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Vatican publishes internal files on alleged abuser; rare move comes amid Ireland criticism
VATICAN CITY (AP) ' 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 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.