April 07, 2005

Vatican asks court to dismiss suit

The Courier-Journal

By Gregory A. Hall
The Courier-Journal

The Roman Catholic Church is asking a U.S. District judge in Louisville to dismiss a lawsuit against the Vatican that alleges a cover-up to protect priests who molested American children.

In four motions and supporting memorandums, the Vatican asks Judge John G. Heyburn II to dismiss the suit, which Louisville attorney William McMurry filed last year on behalf of three men alleging abuse as far back as 1928.

McMurry, who in 2003 represented 243 abuse victims in reaching a $25.7 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Louisville, is seeking to have the suit certified as a class-action case, alleging that "several thousand" victims exist nationwide.

The filings this week by attorneys for the Holy See, the legal identity of the Vatican, allege numerous problems with the suit and represent the church's first in-depth response.

The response argues, for example, that:

The suit should be dismissed because it fails to cite specific actions by the Vatican in regard to the abusive priests. The Vatican also says the complaint does not have enough specifics about the alleged abuse -- times, places and other circumstances -- to proceed.

McMurry did not comply with requirements in U.S. law that must be followed for a foreign country to be sued. The Vatican, which occupies a 109-acre enclave of Rome, is recognized as a sovereign state with legal protections.

Posted by kshaw at April 7, 2005 08:45 AM