Monday, March 29, 2010

US Courts Allows Sex Abuse Cases Against Vatican to Proceed in Rare Legal Move

Since the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal exploded in the United States almost a decade ago, advocates have been trying to find a way to learn the role the Vatican played. Now they have gotten further than ever in their efforts to holding the Holy See accountable in a U.S. courtroom.

Two federal appeals courts in recent months have allowed sexual abuse lawsuits against the Vatican to proceed in Oregon and Kentucky. Vatican attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the Oregon case. Attorneys for both sides in the Oregon proceeding were in Washington two weeks ago making their arguments before a roomful of U.S. government officials, who could wind up weighing in if the Vatican -- considered a foreign country with immunity to lawsuits -- is found a liable party in an American case.

If the Supreme Court declines to take up the case this summer and lets the federal appeals ruling stand, attorneys could begin subpoenaing decades of documents and calling Vatican officials under oath.

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