Will The Pope Be Deposed?

Some might think that I am being too hard on the Pope or the Catholic Church in relation to the child molestation stories that are whirling around the globe..  I am not Catholic and have no personal ax to grind.   I do find the history of the Church and the complex arrangements it has created over the centuries to be highly intriguing.   I am gravitated to the latest angles to this story, and since I have a blog………

This comes from the Wall Street Law Blog.

On Monday, we blogged an Associated Press story on Jeff Anderson, the man behind many of the suits filed against members of the Catholic Church over allegations of sexual abuse by priests and other church leaders.

Today, it seems, it’s the Vatican’s turn. An AP story takes a look at the Holy See’s planned legal defense. The specific goal of the defense: to keep the pope from having to be deposed in a lawsuit going on in Kentucky.

According to the AP, Vatican lawyers plan to argue:

  • that the pope has immunity as a head of state;
  • that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren’t employees of the Vatican,
  • that a 1962 document is not the “smoking gun” that provides proof of a cover-up.

The case was filed in 2004 in Kentucky by three men who claim they were abused by priests and claim negligence by the Vatican. The plaintiffs argue that U.S. diocesan bishops were employees of the Holy See, and that Rome was therefore responsible for their alleged wrongdoing in failing to report abuse. Click here for the complaint.

The Vatican is seeking to dismiss the suit.

The preview of the legal defense was submitted last month in federal court in Louisville as a deposition transcript (which was not immediately available). According to the AP, the Vatican’s strategy is to be formally filed in the coming weeks. Vatican officials declined to comment on Tuesday.

So will the pope be deposed?

Don’t bank on it, say experts. The United States considers the Vatican a sovereign state — the two have had diplomatic relations since 1984. The AP says the hurdles “remain high to force a foreign government to turn over confidential documents, let alone to subject a head of state to questioning by U.S. lawyers.”

“They will not be able to depose the pope,” said Joseph Dellapenna, a professor at Villanova University Law School. “But lower level officials could very well be deposed and there could be subpoenas for documents as part of discovery.”


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