October 08, 2005

Plaintiffs get 2nd chance in Holy See suit

Lexington Herald-Leader

By Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY - A federal judge in Kentucky ruled yesterday that the Holy See is a foreign state that enjoys certain immunity protections in a lawsuit by three men who allege the Vatican covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Judge John G. Heyburn II of the U.S. District Court in Louisville, rejected the victims' argument that the Holy See is an international religious organization. Heyburn 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 in American courts, although it provides exceptions, such as when the states engage in commercial or certain harmful activities in the United States.

The act also requires that service of a lawsuit follow strict protocols. In this case, it required documents to be translated into Latin and served to the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.

In his ruling, Heyburn said the suit had actually been sent to Lajolo's boss, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and that "strict compliance" with the act was necessary.

Posted by kshaw at October 8, 2005 06:49 AM