The sad case of sexual abuse of children by priests can never have anything other than a conclusion which does not please anyone. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear a request from the Vatican that it be granted “sovereign immunity” from prosecution in a case involving a man known as “John Doe.” Mr. Doe alleges that he was abused in Portland, Oregon by a priest named Father Andrew Ronan and nothing was done to prevent these actions. At the heart of the Doe case is a charge that Father Ronan had abused children in Ireland, then in Chicago, and then in Portland because instead of being taken away from contact with children, the church allowed him to pursue his activities in order to avoid embarrassment. The Court refused to recognize the concept of sovereign immunity and allowed a trial to proceed.
There is no doubt Pope Benedict opposes priests who have engaged in sexual abuse and is attempting to prevent future occurrences. At this point, the best policy to be pursued is allowing cases to come to trial, place priests on the witness stand, and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions.