|Lawsuit against Vatican Goes Forward: Statement by Plaintiffs This Morning
By Kay Ebeling
March 4, 2009
Attorney Jeff Anderson explains how doors are opened by lawsuit that as of yesterday can go forward against Vatican on behalf of one survivor of Catholic pedophile priest Jeff Anderson: I am pleased to say that the Ninth Circuit Court of Federal Appeals in San Francisco ruled yesterday late that the Vatican, the Hole See, can be sued for their role in an offending pedophile priest molesting a youth. That molestation of that youth happened in Portland Oregon and in 2002 we brought suit there in Portland on his behalf for the indelible harm done. (Here is a rough transcript, the press conference is still in progress, Jeff Anderson started representing sex crime victims of Catholic priests in the 1980s from St. Paul, Minnesota.)
We brought suit for its role in allowing this priest to be moved from Ireland where he abused, to Chicago, where he abused, and after admitting to superiors in Chicago that he had abused three boys, he was moved to Portland Oregon, where he was placed in another position of trust and authority and abused there and abused this then teenage boy now 49 year old man, who has been suffering all these years.
Really kicks the door open for survivors to seek some measure of justice against the Vatican the Holy See for its role in allowing this priest, and perhaps others across this land, to hold them accountable for their role in this for it is the Vatican that has for decades if not longer been at the top of the pyramids, issued instructions, issued protocols that has allowed priests to become priests and allowed them to be moved across state lines, across international boundaries, and all the while to have kept this a secret.
So this decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is really just the first step in what has been a long legal saga but it is a hopeful step, because this will have been the second time that a high court or any court in the US has said we have a chance to prove and to show to a jury, that the Vatican has a serious role in this scandal and in this coverup.
In this case the Holy See claims that because they are a sovereign a country, they are immune, safe from being sued and there is law called the Foreign sovereign Immunities Act a federal law that says you cannot sue countries for harm the countries do in the US
UNLESS There are extraordinary circumstances.
And there are two extraordinary circumstances cited in this opinion that hav e been winding
First is called torque exception, holding the Vatican responsible for the misdeeds of its employees and in particular its priests.
The other is the commercial acts exception which says you can hold a foreign sovereign responsible in the US courts if they're doing business doing commercial activity, and a lot of it, as we have claimed in this case.
The Court did not accept our commercial activity argument. And this is a 60 page opinion that many lawyers will have a hard time understanding. But the bottom line is that there is no safe harbor according to this court and the one below it for the Vatican when it comes to sexual abuse by priests, when they know he is an offender, move him across international and state boundaries and continue to employ him where he is a danger to parishioners.
I'd like to say this is the end of this case and some measure of justice has been delivered for this survivor, but I am positive that this is the front end of what has been a long legal saga that will continue. My work in this area began 25 years ago when I first sued the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minneapolis, on behalf of one survivor and since then have brought suit against every bishop and cardinal across this country.
In 2002 I became convinced that the Vatican needs to be held accountable for its role in this outrage. This suit was designed to do that.
This decision opens the door to get some measure of justice and accountability against the Vatican that they do not have a legal safe harbor because they are a country. Because the Pope sits in Rome and the Vatican is a sovereign. So it is an important legal victory - Vatican needs a day of reckoning as this problem continues across this country and frankly around the world.
Continued in next post.
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