Guam Daily Post
September 15, 2022
By Shane Tenorio Healy
The Vatican declined to ask Pope Francis to resolve Guam’s clergy sex abuse cases.
Last month, District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ordered attorneys representing the Holy See, or the State of the Vatican City, to ask the pope if he can resolve the Guam clergy sex abuse cases as opposed to settling it in court.
The case in question comes from a lawsuit filed by plaintiff “D.M.” who accused the Vatican of being responsible for former Archbishop Anthony Apuron sexually assaulting him in the 1990s.
Parties met in August on a motion filed by the Vatican to dismiss the case due to improper service from the plaintiff’s attorneys.
Throughout the arguments, Tydingco-Gatewood challenged the pope to be part of not only resolving D.M.’s case but also the hundreds of victims seeking compensation from the Archdiocese of Agana. She also asked if the plaintiff’s attorneys could be given another chance to serve the Vatican properly.
The Vatican replied to the requests by declining to confer with the pope on resolution arguing it “implicates attorney-client relationship.”
“Since any communications between the Holy See and its counsel related to the Court’s two questions fall squarely within its protected scope, they are not properly subject to disclosure to the court, to plaintiff’s counsel, or to the public,” the Vatican’s attorneys wrote before adding Tydingco-Gatewood’s inquiries are inappropriate.
The attorneys then went on to explain judicial inquires directed at Pope Francis are improper, stating that as head of state he has “absolute immunity and personal inviolability,” and cited a sex abuse case where Pope Benedict XVI was immune.
“As a matter of international comity, a federal court should not be requesting information regarding Pope Francis’s (inclinations) as to a particular legal controversy any more than a foreign court should request such information from the President of the United States,” the Vatican’s attorneys wrote.
The Holy See concluded they further support their motion to have the case dismissed.