Alleged Abuse Victims Can Sue the Vatican

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2008 5:32 PM CST
Pope's Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Angelus prayers overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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(Newser) – Alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests can move ahead with a lawsuit against the Vatican, the Wall Street Journal reports. A federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the Vatican can be held liable for negligence in the thousands of such cases reported in the US. A Vatican spokesman said it will probably not appeal to the Supreme Court.

It's possible, however, that the Vatican—recognized as a sovereign state—will argue that it has immunity from civil trials, the Journal notes. The court ruled that the church government is liable for actions taken by US bishops who were following church policy. The bishops allegedly tried to hush up the problem and failed to report cases. Catholic dioceses have paid out $1.5 billion in damages, but this decision could open up the Vatican's coffers as well.