Blog Post

Plaintiffs Drop Abuse Lawsuit Against Vatican

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist Three men from Kentucky who attempted to sue the Vatican for alleged sex abuse by priests have decided to drop their case. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that William F. McMurry, lawyer for the plaintiffs, asked U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II on Monday to dismiss the case, filed because his clients had no chance of winning. "We're not interested in banging our heads against the wall anymore," McMurry said. "The truth is that the U.S. courts have placed an impossible burden on plaintiffs trying to hold the Holy See responsible." The case, filed in Kentucky in 2004, sought to convince the courts that Catholic clergy in the U.S. engaged in a systematic cover-up of sex abuse under explicit instruction from the Holy See, and that this cover-up led to numerous incidents of abuse. Jeffrey Lena, a lawyer for the Vatican, said the case was dropped due to insufficient evidence that the Vatican had committed any crimes. "Six years ago, the plaintiffs' lawyers concocted a series of allegations. But they never had the evidence to back those allegations up," Lena said in a statement. "And that is the real reason plaintiffs now wish to dismiss their own case." Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi praised the decision to drop the case, telling reporters "it is good news that a case that has lasted six years on the alleged involvement of the Holy See in concealing abuse and which has also had strong negative effects on public opinion, has ultimately been proven … unfounded." Fr. Lombardi also said that the outcome does not in any way diminish the Vatican's condemnation of sexual abuse or compassion for the victims. "Justice for victims of sexual abuse and the protection of minors remain our primary objective," he explained. At least three other cases filed in the U.S., including one filed in Seattle in 2002 that was recently permitted to move forward by the U.S. Supreme Court, are pending against the Vatican. Michael Finnegan, a lawyer involved in some of these cases, told the Catholic News Agency that the dismissal of the Kentucky case would have "no bearing at all" on them. "We believe in our cases and we're moving forward," he said. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®