Defendant of opportunity

Defendant of opportunity

The lawyer for alleged victims of abuse has included Pope Benedict as a defendant in his abuse lawsuit. The lawyer, Daniel Shea claims that then-Cardinal Ratzinger conspired to keep abuse secret by sending out a letter to bishops.

The pope was added to the lawsuit earlier this year, before he became pontiff, because of a letter he wrote in May 2001. The letter to bishops states, “cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.”

“The pontifical secret, as far as we can tell, means you don’t tell anyone about the case,” Shea said.

“As far as we can tell”: Don’t you think that as a lawyer you might have an obligation to find out exactly what a “pontifical secret” is before you jump to conclusions and sue somebody?

Of course, canon lawyer Ed Peters has debunked this particular claim already. Nevermind that you can’t sue a foreign head of state in a US court. Sounds like publicity-seeking grandstanding by a lawyer taking advantage of some people who have been abused.

(To be clear, I’m not talking about the abuse allegations, but about the attempt to drag the Pope into this.)