An attorney for a man who claims he was sexually abused by an Oregon priest in the 1960s, says newly released documents show the Vatican controls the removal of clergy.

Who controls priests is important because so far the Vatican has avoided being held liable for sexual abuse by priests.

It has claimed sovereign authority and sovereign authorities cannot be sued -- except under extraordinary circumstances.

Attorney Marci Hamilton is trying to prove those circumstances by showing the Vatican knew that priest Andrew Ronan abused children in Ireland and Chicago before being sent to Oregon.

She says papers released last week show churches overseas are under the control of the Vatican.

"They can either petition and try to get a child abuser removed, and they can only do that with permission and approval by the Vatican.  Or they can move him around and keep his identity secret until the Vatican will take action," Hamilton says.

Vatican attorney, Jeffrey Lena, says the papers contain nothing to show the Vatican had knowledge that Ronan abused children, or that it participated in his transfers.

The documents were released on the order of a federal judge in Portland.