Friday, January 12, 2007

Benedict XVI's Vatican can be sued: Judge says

Pope Benedict XVI's free roaming days are numbered. As the highest member of the Pope John Paul II Third Reich, he is the number one guilty man in the cover-up of John Paul II Pedophile Priests Army. His Latin muffler will no longer protect him and his immunity as a head of state will not save his neck. His papal tail will be uncovered before the world. He will be sued and will face justice like any human being in a lay court in America.

Vatican Can Be Sued Over Bishops' Conduct, Judge Says (Update2)

By Steven Church

Jan. 11 ( -- The Vatican can be sued over claims that U.S. leaders of the Roman Catholic church failed to warn parishioners about pedophile priests, a Kentucky judge ruled.
In the second decision of its kind, Chief U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II in Louisville said the Holy See itself must face a sexual-abuse lawsuit. Most victims have sued their local diocese in state and federal courts without directly naming the Vatican because of restrictions laid out in the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, or FSIA.

``We are attempting to hold the ultimate responsible party liable for what happened here,'' said William F. McMurry, a Louisville lawyer representing a people who contend they were sexually abused by priests. ``It's unfair to hold the parishioners of Catholic parishes financially responsible for what their bishops did at the behest of their superiors in the Vatican.''

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against individual priests, bishops and other church leaders across the U.S. since the sexual abuse scandal became national news in 2002. Defending those cases have placed financial burdens on America's 194 dioceses, which operate semi-independently from the Vatican.

Some dioceses have sought bankruptcy protection to deal with the litigation. On Jan. 4, the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington, said it would end its bankruptcy case in part by signing a $48 million settlement with abuse victims.

A host of Catholic bishops in the U.S. have issued apologies for the actions of abusive priests and taken steps to remove those individuals from their ministries.
`Precedent Set'

The Kentucky ruling is likely to prompt a fresh wave of suits from victims of priest abuse, said lawyer Thomas S. Neuberger, who is suing the Catholic church in Wilmington, Delaware, over abuse allegations.

``We're going to see more suits like this now that a precedent has been set,'' Neuberger said. ``If you tried to subpoena documents or sue in the past, they would raise the immunity defense.''

Attorney Jeffrey S. Lena, who represented the Holy See, said church leaders won some important legal points in Heyburn's ruling.

For example, the judge agreed that actions by the Holy See itself cannot be challenged, only those by its employees. The judge also said he is open to reconsidering his decision if the church can provide facts to challenge the idea that its bishops aren't Holy See employees for purposes of the class- action suit.

Lawyers who have sued on behalf of sex-abuse victims have hesitated to name the Vatican because of the FSIA's strict requirements, said Adrienne Kim, who works with McMurry on the Kentucky abuse case.

Latin Subpoena

While the Vatican serves as the head of the more than 1-billion member Roman Catholic Church, it also is a sovereign city state located within the city of Rome.

Even serving a subpoena on the Vatican is difficult, because the papers must be in Latin, she said. Her firm had the subpoena's language translated into the ancient tongue, she said.

``For us, it was less of a legal strategy. It was a moral strategy,'' she said. ``If you have evidence that they have knowledge of what's going on, then that should be pursued.''
McMurry said Heyburn found the Vatican ordered American bishops in 1962 to hide evidence that priests were sexually abusing lay members of the church. That opens up the Holy See to damage claims, he said.

The nationwide scandal emerged in January 2002 after abuse victims in the Boston area filed hundreds of lawsuits against Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the former head of the diocese.

Law stepped down after the Boston Globe revealed archdiocese officials had shifted priests accused of abuse from parish to parish. Law is now assigned to administrative duties at the Vatican and is archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one the church's five major basilicas in Rome.

The Kentucky case is 04CV-338, James H. O'Bryan et al v. Holy See, in the Western District of Kentucky (Louisville).

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware at Compose .

Pope Benedict XVI 'led cover-up of child abuse by priests'

Pope 'led cover-up of child abuse by priests'

Last updated at 22:00pm on 30th September 2006

The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight.

In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church's interests ahead of child safety.

The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

The Panorama special, Sex Crimes And The Vatican, investigates the details of this little-known document for the first time. The programme also accuses the Catholic Church of knowingly harbouring paedophile clergymen. It reveals that priests accused of child abuse are generally not struck off or arrested but simply moved to another parish, often to reoffend. It gives examples of hush funds being used to silence the

Before being elected as Pope Benedict XVI in April last year, the pontiff was Cardinal Thomas Ratzinger who had, for 24 years, been the head of the powerful Congregation of the Doctrine of The Faith, the department of the Roman Catholic Church charged with promoting Catholic teachings on morals and matters of faith. An arch-Conservative, he was regarded as the 'enforcer' of Pope John Paul II in cracking down on liberal challenges to traditional Catholic teachings.

Five years ago he sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis - Latin for The Crime of Solicitation - which laid down the Vatican's strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal. It was regarded as so secret that it came with instructions that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times.

Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced the strict cover-up policy by introducing a new principle: that the Vatican must have what it calls Exclusive Competence. In other words, he commanded that all child abuse allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome.

Patrick Wall, a former Vatican-approved enforcer of the Crimen Sollicitationis in America, tells the programme: "I found out I wasn't working for a holy institution, but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself."

And Father Tom Doyle, a Vatican lawyer until he was sacked for criticising the church's handling of child abuse claims, says: "What you have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen.

"When abusive priests are discovered, the response has been not to investigate and prosecute but to move them from one place to another. So there's total disregard for the victims and for the fact that you are going to have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. This is happening all over the world."

The investigation could not come at a worse time for Pope Benedict, who is desperately trying to mend the Church's relations with the Muslim world after a speech in which he quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who said that Islam was spread by holy war and had brought only evil to the world.

The Panorama programme is presented by Colm O'Gorman, who was raped by a priest when he was 14. He said: "What gets me is that it's the same story every time and every place. Bishops appoint priests who they know have abused children in the past to new parishes and new communities and more abuse happens."

Last night Eileen Shearer, director of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults said: "The Catholic Church in England and Wales (has) established a single set of national policies and procedures for child protection work. We are making excellent progress in protecting children and preventing abuse."

Panorama: Sex Crimes And The Vatican is on BBC1 tonight at 10.15pm.

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