Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Vatican offers 3 reasons it's not liable for abuse| ajc.com
VATICAN CITY — Dragged deeper than ever into the clerical sex abuse scandal, the Vatican is launching a legal defense that the church hopes will shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky seeking to have him deposed.
The case was filed in 2004 in Kentucky by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican. Their attorney, William McMurry, is seeking class-action status for the case, saying there are thousands of victims across the country.Court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the pope has immunity as head of state, that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren't employees of the Vatican, and that a 1962 document is not the "smoking gun" that provides proof of a cover-up.
The Holy See is trying to fend off the first U.S. case to reach the stage of determining whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself for negligence for allegedly failing to alert police or the public about Roman Catholic priests who molested children.
Pope Pius VII, the last Pope to be placed under actual duress by the secular authorities. Pope Pius IX was a self-imposed prisoner in the Vatican after the fall of the Papal States.
"This case is the only case that has been ever been filed against the Vatican which has as its sole objective to hold the Vatican accountable for all the priest sex abuse ever committed in this country," he said in a phone interview. "There is no other defendant. There's no bishop, no priest."
The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit before Benedict XVI can be questioned or secret documents subpoenaed.