WASHINGTON – WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has largely sided with the Vatican in a clergy sex abuse lawsuit that names the Holy See as a defendant and is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The acting U.S. solicitor general, joined by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Justice Department, filed a brief last Friday arguing that the case does not meet the standard for an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, under which the Vatican is typically immune from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.
The solicitor general's office recommended that the lawsuit be sent back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration. The lower court had ruled that the case could go forward because there was enough of a connection between the Vatican and the accused priest for him to be considered a Vatican employee under Oregon law. The Vatican has argued that it is not responsible for the actions of individual priests in dioceses.
The original lawsuit, Doe V. Holy See, was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who says the priest repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s. The plaintiff claims the Vatican conspired with the Archdiocese of Portland and other parties to protect the priest by moving him from Ireland to Chicago to Portland despite a history of sex abuse allegations against him.
No one has ever successfully sued the Vatican over molestation by Roman Catholic clergy.
A separate lawsuit filed in Louisville, Ky., and still in the courts, claims the Vatican is liable for U.S. bishops who allowed priests to molest children.