O.C. bishop sues charity administrator who accused Catholic leader of wrongdoing

Los Angeles Times

November 1, 2020

By Harriet Ryan

The suit by Bishop Kevin Vann seeks a retraction and money from the former administrator of a church-affiliated charity.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Orange County is suing a former charity administrator for libel, an escalation in the prelate’s dispute with influential church philanthropists who have complained to the Vatican about his firing of a nonprofit board.

Bishop Kevin Vann and the Diocese of Orange’s chief financial officer are seeking a retraction, financial compensation and punitive damages from the ex-administrator for an email in which they contend she gave a “false narrative” that suggested that charity funds might be used to cover clergy sex abuse claims.

The Superior Court suit filed earlier this month is the latest development in the bishop’s ongoing conflict with a group of high-dollar donors and other church insiders. Vann terminated the group from the independent Orange Catholic Foundation board in June after they rebuffed his request for millions of dollars in emergency pandemic funding. The board members reported the bishop to the Holy See for allegedly acting beyond his authority and violating state and church law, accusations the bishop denies.

The suit does not name any of the well-connected real estate developers, attorneys, corporate executives or others tossed from the board or the misconduct accusations they made to church officials in Rome and Washington, D.C. It focuses instead on an email written by an administrator ousted after the board firings.

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