Holy See Not the Boss

A federal judge in Oregon ruled on Aug. 20 that the Vatican was not the employer of a priest accused of molestation and dismissed a 10-year effort to hold the Holy See liable for sexual abuse. A lawsuit filed by a Portland area man argued the Vatican was partly responsible for his molestation in the 1960s. But U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman said he could not find an employment link in the facts and therefore, under the sovereign immunity law, the U.S. court had no jurisdiction. Jeff Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff, said in a press release that his client would appeal. “The judge’s thoughtful remarks from the bench clearly expressed his difficulty in deciding the case,” Anderson said. But an attorney representing the Vatican called Anderson’s statement misleading: “[Judge Mosman] did not say it was a close call on whether Ronan was an employee.” On this central point, “he said the plaintiffs had not really produced any solid facts to support their theory.”

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