Are priests employees of the Vatican?

Are priests employees of the Vatican?

This one is going to go down on appeal. I’m no lawyer, but even I know this is going nowhere. A federal judge in Oregon ruled that an accused priest is technically an employee of the Vatican thus the Vatican can be named as a party to the lawsuit.

US District Judge Michael Mosman refused to dismiss a clergy sex abuse [JURIST news archive] lawsuit naming the Vatican as the defendant, despite the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text] which generally protects nations from being sued in the US. Mosman ruled that Rev. Andrew Ronan, the priest involved in the lawsuit, was an employee of the Vatican under Oregon law and noted that under exceptions to FSIA, states are not protected when they engage in commercial or certain harmful activities in the United States. … The lawsuit [complaint, PDF] alleges that the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Portland and the archbishop of Chicago conspired to transfer Ronan from Ireland to Chicago to Portland with the knowledge that he had a history of sexual abuse.

I’d like to see the evidence that Ronan is an employee of the Vatican: a paystub, a contract, anything. Under canon law and Catholic doctrine, a priest’s ministry is an extension of a bishop’s ministry, thus the requirement for a priest to receive faculties from the bishop in whose diocese who is at the moment. Thus they can’t even appeal to Catholic teaching. I just don’t see how this is going to fly.

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Domenico Bettinelli
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