US case: Vatican outlines defence for Pope

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 The Times of India

 AP

Apr 1, 2010, 04.59am IST

VATICAN CITY: Dragged deeper than ever into the clerical sex abuse scandal, the Vatican is launching a legal defense that it hopes will shield the pope from a lawsuit in Kentucky seeking to have him answer attorneys’ questions under oath.

Court documents show Vatican lawyers plan to argue that the Pope has immunity as head of state, that US bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren’t Vatican’s employees, and that a 1962 document does not provide proof of a cover-up.

The Holy See is trying to fend off the first US case to reach the stage of determining whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself for negligence for allegedly failing to alert police or the public about Catholic priests who molested kids.

The case was filed in 2004 in Kentucky by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican. Their attorney, William McMurry, is seeking class-action status for the case, saying there are thousands of victims across the country.

“This case is the only case that has been ever been filed against the Vatican which has as its sole objective to hold the Vatican accountable for all the priest sex abuse ever committed in this country,” he said.

The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit before Benedict can be questioned or documents subpoenaed.

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