A federal judge in Kentucky has decided that sovereign immunity (for foreign nations) does not apply and that sex abuse plaintiffs can sue the Vatican. The judge said that the men can now demand documents from the Vatican and take depositions from authorities in Rome. The question remains whether the Vatican will bother to acknowledge the court’s ruling and what legal repercussions ensue.
The judge said that he based his ruling on the argument that bishops are agents or employees of the Vatican, i.e. the nation-state and legal organization, not necessarily because they are clergy within the Church. That’s a different kind of role.
According to another report, the plaintiffs relied in their claim on a 1962 document that supposedly showed the Vatican ordered a coverup of abuse. The problem is that the document was made public three years ago, and it has been thoroughly debunked: 1, 2, 3, 4.
This should be a slam-dunk on appeal for the Vatican’s lawyers. It’s one thing to pursue justice, but it must done with respect for freedom of religion, the law, and the truth. This is just a fishing expedition that is looking to raid the perceived deeper pockets of the Vatican. With American dioceses starting to declare bankruptcy, plaintiffs’ lawyers are getting worried they won’t get the big paydays their predecessors in the affluent market got.
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