The Vatican as defendant

The Vatican as defendant

John Allen reports that the Vatican asked Condoleezza Rice to intervene to stop some sex abuse lawsuits in American courts that name the Vatican as defendants. Of course, she said she couldn’t.

Church sources told NCR that Rice was asked by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, whether the United States government could stop a class-action lawsuit currently before a United States District Court in Louisville, Ky., that seeks to hold the Vatican financially responsible for the sexual abuse of minors. Sources told NCR that Rice explained that under American law, foreign states are required to assert claims of sovereign immunity themselves before U.S. courts.

Do you think that some people at the Vatican are getting antsy that the hundreds of millions of dollars in sex-abuse lawsuits are going to start flowing across the Atlantic to bite them. The reality, though, is that these lawsuits aren’t likely to go anywhere because the Holy See is a sovereign state and American courts have no jurisdiction over them.

However, there is the possibility that some court somewhere will say that the Church is a special case because American dioceses and parishes are like the branch offices of a corporation, not consulates and embassies of a foreign power, and that gives the Church a legal liability. And you know that lawyers are just drooling over the prospect of draining the Holy See of billions of dollars. (Not that they have it, but they’ll just tell them to sell off some US dioceses or the Pieta or something.)

Hey, I think victims should be compensated, but this is going way beyond that.

  • How could anyone collect a judgment against the Vatican?  They should blow it off.

  • I dunno, I’m not too sad to see em sweat a bit. Guys like Weakland and Mahoney and Lynch didn’t come from nowhere. It’s not like they appointed themselves.

  • I have visions of someone peeling off the ceiling of the Sistine chapel or taking over the ticket kiosks, engaging Orlando creators and introducing “Vatican world”.  Maybe this will fulfill the prophecies of “the pope will have to flee Rome”!  Talk about the world going mad, things just keep getting more and more bizarre all the time.

  • Charles Williams. Once there is a final judgment made against a sovereign foreign state, a private party can enforce the judgment against them to seize monetary or physical assets owned in the United States.  This is very difficult in practice but not impossible.  The claims against the government of Libya for Pan Am Flight 103 are one example where there was a monetary recovery.

  • One lawsuit might not be bad for them.  Many of the men who run things quite literally don’t pay their own bills and have no clue.  Just as a little memory that they still are only men and must behave, mind you.