October 08, 2005

Suit claiming cover-up by Vatican has setback

The Courier-Journal

From AP and Staff dispatches

A federal judge in Louisville has ruled that the Holy See is a foreign state that enjoys certain immunity protections in a lawsuit filed by three men who accuse the Vatican of covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II, issued Thursday, rejected the victims' argument that the Holy See is an international religious organization. He ruled that it is a foreign state subject to provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

The 1976 act restricts when foreign states can be sued. It does provide exceptions, such as when the states engage in commercial or certain harmful activities in the United States.

William McMurry, attorney for the three men who filed the suit last year, argued that the Holy See engaged in both commercial and harmful activity in the United States.

McMurry, of Louisville, also represented 243 abuse victims in reaching a $25.7 million settlement with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville in 2003.

Lawyers for the Vatican filed motions this spring asking that Heyburn dismiss the suit against the Holy See because it did not follow the foreign immunities act, which sets strict protocols.

Posted by kshaw at October 8, 2005 06:46 AM