The Roman Catholic Church may be prone to forgive and forget, but the Supreme Court isn't quite so benevolent.
The Holy See had hoped the federal court would stop a 2002 Oregon lawsuit that accuses the Vatican of transferring a priest from city to city, even after he was repeatedly accused of sexual abuse.
Allegedly, Rev. Andrew Ronan was transferred from parish to parish—Archdiocese of Armagh in Benburb, Ireland; St. Phillip High School in Chicago; and then St. Albert's Church in Portland, Oregon—despite accusations of sexual abuse in all three positions.
The lawsuit seeks to hold the Vatican responsible for knowingly reassigning a priest accused of sexual abuse, thereby putting more young people in danger.
Normally, the Vatican, as a sovereign state, is immune to lawsuits. But lower federal courts found that this case could be an exception and that Ronan could be considered a Vatican employee under Oregon law.
The Supreme Court has allowed the lawsuit, Holy See v. John Doe, to move forward.
Experts have suggested that this could lead to a heap of legal questioning in the Church, which faces several pedophilia accusations.
In several countries, members of the clergy—including Pope Benedict XVI—have been accused of protecting those priests accused of child abuse by moving them to another parish.
The Supreme Court's decision potentially opens doors for plaintiffs who have filed abuse suits against the Roman Catholic Church.
Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.