Archdiocese Says It Took Swift Action against Priest in 1966

By Terrence Petty
Associated Press State & Local Wire [Portland Ore]
April 3, 2002

A former Roman Catholic priest in Portland who was named in a sex abuse lawsuit filed in Florida was stripped of his duties as a priest in 1966 following a sex abuse complaint against him, Archdiocese of Portland officials said Wednesday.

"On hearing those allegations (in 1966), the archdiocoese took very swift and decisive action" against the late Rev. Andrew Ronan, said Mary Joe Tully, chancellor for the archdiocese.

Earlier Wednesday in Florida, an unidentified man sued the Vatican for allegedly covering up sexual abuse by Ronan in Ireland, Chicago and then Portland.

Also named in the lawsuit - which seeks damages of more than $75,000 - are the Archidiocese of Portland, the bishop of Chicago and the religious order for which Ronan worked.

According to the suit, Ronan was sent to Chicago from Ireland in the early 1960s after he admitted abusing a youth. While working at a Catholic high school in Chicago, at least three male students accused him of molesting them.

"Despite knowing of Roman's dangerous propensities to abuse children" the Vatican transferred Ronan to Portland in 1965, the lawsuit said.

The complaint alleges that in late 1965 or early 1966 - when the unidentified plaintiff was 15 or 16 years old - he was sexually abused by Ronan.

The man is suffering from severe and permanent emotional distress because of the mistreatment, the lawsuit claims.

Tully said Archdiocese of Portland officials believe the unidentified plaintiff is the same person who filed a complaint against Ronan in 1966.

She said the archidiocese took action against Ronan within three months.

"Judicial proceedings were initiated under church law" and Ronan was stripped of his duties as a priest and reduced to a lay member of the church in March 1966, Tully said.

She said there is no evidence that the archdiocese knew of any similar previous allegations against Ronan.

Ronan left Portland after the archdiocese took action against him and he died about 10 years ago, Tully said.


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