Blog Post

Lawyer Admits His Career Goal is to Sue Vatican

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist A lawyer accused by colleagues of being “prone to exaggeration” and who has made a career out of suing the Church for alleged sexual abuse by priests, admits that his career goal is to sue the Vatican. According to a report by the Associated Press (AP), Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, Minnesota is the man responsible for revealing documents about a Milwaukee sex abuse scandal that supposedly implicated Pope Benedict XVI in a cover-up that became what is now a mostly discredited front-page  story in the New York Times last week. He and his partners have filed thousands of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Catholic priests since 1983, raking in sums as high as $60 million in one year alone. But he claims it’s not about the money.  Anderson was already in the process of suing the Church on behalf of abuse victims when his eight year-old daughter revealed that she was molested by a therapist she was seeing during Anderson’s divorce from his first wife.  Anderson claims the therapist was a former Catholic priest. That revelation "brought another dimension to the experience" he said, but admits that he had already come to the conclusion that the responsibility for covering up abusive priests ultimately rested with the Vatican. "I came to the stark realization that the problems were really endemic to the clerical culture, and all the problems we are having in the U.S. led back to Rome," Anderson told the AP. "And I realized nothing was going to fundamentally change until they did." This is why his life’s goal is to take his crusade to very top of the Church, even to questioning the Pope himself under oath. Anderson claims he may soon get his chance. One potential case involves an Oregon priest who was accused of abusing boys in the mid-1950’s in Ireland, but was later transferred to the U.S. Anderson claims the Vatican would have had to approve the international transfer and therefore would have known about the abuse. However, the Holy See is claiming its protection under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which prohibits U.S. lawsuits against foreign countries. Several courts have produced different decisions in the case and the Holy See is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the issue. The Court has not yet decided if it will hear the case. Lawyers who know Anderson are not surprised by his lofty goals.  Andrew Eisenzimmer, a lawyer for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who has faced Anderson in court, said in earlier interview with the AP that Anderson was “prone to exaggeration.” Raised Lutheran, he married his first wife in a Catholic Church but says that his “spiritual journey no longer involves church attendance,” the AP reports.  Oddly, his office is full of items salvaged from churches such as a kneeler and a confessional booth, along with a Buddhist and Native American object or two. When asked about the significance of these items, he said simply, “I like religious iconography.”  © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®