“A federal appeals court has permitted a lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse to proceed against the Vatican, creating potential liability for the seat of the Roman Catholic faith for the activities of Catholic clergy in the U.S. Monday’s ruling, issued by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, marks the first time a court at so high a level has recognized that the Vatican could be liable for the negligence in sexual-abuse cases brought in the U.S.
The ruling is seen as a breakthrough by those allegedly abused by priests. Investigators and grand juries have found several instances where the church failed to report alleged abusers and covered up alleged misdeeds to protect them. Jeffrey S. Lena, the attorney for the Holy See, said he was not “presently inclined” to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision. It remains to be seen whether the Vatican, which is a sovereign state recognized by the U.S. government, will make further arguments that it is immune from U.S. civil proceeding.
Catholic dioceses in the U.S. have paid out at least $1.5 billion to alleged abuse victims, most of this since the scandal broke open nationwide in 2002. The appeals court found that the church government may be held liable for actions taken in the U.S. based on the Vatican’s policies or directives.”