Vatican Tries to Shield Pope from Lawsuit

Offers 3 reasons he isn't responsible for abuse, and can't testify
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2010 5:00 AM CDT
Joey Piscitelli a director of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) talks about Pope Benedict during a protest in front of the Archdiocese headquarters in San Francisco, Monday.   (Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – The Vatican is launching a legal defense that it hopes will shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky seeking to have him answer questions under oath about clerical sex abuse. Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the pope has immunity as head of state, that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren't employees of the Vatican, and that a 1962 document is not the "smoking gun" that provides proof of a cover-up, according to court documents obtained by the AP.

The case, the first to ever make it this far, was filed in 2004 in Kentucky by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican. Their attorney is seeking class-action status for the case, saying there are thousands of victims across the country. The case "has as its sole objective to hold the Vatican accountable for all priest sex abuse ever committed in this country," he said. "There is no other defendant. There's no bishop, no priest." The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit before Benedict XVI can be questioned or documents subpoenaed.

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