US Court of Appeal throws out lawsuit against the Vatican

US Court of Appeal throws out lawsuit against the Vatican

The United States Court of Appeal has dismissed a lawsuit against the Vatican.

On Monday the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed a case involving the alleged sexual abuse of a minor by a priest in Oregon in 1965. The dismissal of John V Doe v Holy See on Monday marks the end of litigation which began in 2002.

Jeffrey S Lena, counsel for the Holy See, published the documentation held by the Vatican regarding the case in 2011, indicating that the Vatican was only informed of the misconduct a year after the abuse was reported and the priest was then laicised within weeks.

Jeffrey S Lena said: “The dismissal – which was not the result of any settlement or other payment by the Holy See – was entered at the voluntary request of the Plaintiff’s own lawyers, who were faced with an impending deadline to reply to the Holy See’s appellate briefing in the case,” and said the lawsuit “never should have been filed in the first place.”

International law 101. A Head of State enjoys immunity from civil suits.
The Pope is the Head of State of the Vatican City State, which status an an independent sovereign state is indisputable, considering that it enjoys diplomatic relations with over 90 countries.

This lawsuit should have been thrown out years ago. I can’t see how these idiots could possibly have gotten this far, given the lack of legal ground for the lawsuit.

Actually, it the person of Pope himself who enjoys sovereign immunity as an international personality. The Vatican City state has nothing to do with it.

Regardless of the merits of the alleged abuse, the Bishop of Rome is not in charge of the conduct of the priests of Oregon. Why they thought they had any grounds for litigation is truly beyond me. Sounds like another attempt to attack the big bad Vatican. :rolleyes:

Canon law states otherwise:

Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.

He has authority to intervene if necessary, but you can’t cherry pick canon law. The local bishop is responsible for the conduct of his priests…the pope can’t be held personally responsible for the actions of hundreds of thousands of priests. When the pope (or his delegates in Rome) learned of this particular case, the pope’s authority was used to discipline the priest.

No, the authority to “intervene if necessary” is extraordinary authority (as in extraordinary minister). The Pope’s authority over the entire Church is dogmatically defined as ordinary.

There is a serious flaw in everyone’s interpretation of the law here. A diocesan priest is a secular man. Neither the pope, nor the local bishop, nor his pastor or his immediate superior have any authority over his private conduct anymore than they would over John H. Catholic sitting in the pews.

The law refers to jurisdiction. Jurisdiction means that the pope is the highest ranking authority when it comes to matters such as governance, giving and withdrawing faculties to preach, absolve and witness marriages. Only the pope can authorize ordinations, which he does through the bishops for the diocese and through the religious superior for religious orders. Only the pope can suppress a diocese, religious house, religious order or an institution that is owned by a religious order.

In brief, the law is speaking about the popes authority in areas of sacraments, faculties, institutions, religious and secular institutes, dioceses, finances and other legal matters that do not involve the private lives of those who are not members of religious orders.

Even in the case of those who are members of religious orders, the pope’s authority is limited to governance. He has no authority over conscience and moral acts. He is the highest ranking superior of all religious orders, but like all religious superiors, he can only control what is specified in the rule of the order or the constitutions of the congregation.

In the areas mentioned above, his authority is absolute, his word is final and there is no appeal.

In matters or moral and prudential judgment, the pope’s authority is a moral authority. He has no way of exercising direct control over any Catholic.

The canon cited above is not about an employer employee relationship. It’s about faculties, jurisdiction and governance.

The pope is no more my employer than President Obama is the employer of the Joint Chief, the Chief Justice or head of the FBI.

As far as Vatican City is concerned, the same rules that apply to the USA apply to Vatican City. If you are a federal employee, the employer is liable for certain actions on the part of the employee, but not every action. Imagine the federal government being held liable for every soldier who has raped.

That’s a different use of the word ordinary. In this case it means that the pope’s authority is proper to the office of the papacy - it’s inherent - not delegated. The bishop is the Ordinary of his diocese as his authority over the diocese is proper/inherent to his office.

Either way Brother JR did an excellent job of explaining why the pope can not be personally help responsible for the conduct of individual priests.

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