The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, January 31, 2011
Vatican won't accept service of US child sex lawsuit; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, [email protected])
There’s fighting fair and fighting dirty. The Vatican is fighting dirty.
Under harsh public scrutiny and criticism, the Pope promises last summer to “do everything possible” to heal victims. Then, when attention fades, he plays legal hardball and delays justice by arrogantly refusing service of a lawsuit – a simple move to help expedite a legal process.
This is the same stone-walling tactic Vatican bureaucrats used just two years ago to block Irish government investigators who were looking into cover ups of clergy child sex crimes in that nation.
The Vatican is rubbing salt into the deep wounds of clergy sex abuse victims while thumbing its nose at the American justice system.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Published Sunday, January 30, 2011
Lawyer for Wis. accuser: Vatican rejected lawsuit
By PATRICK CONDON Associated Press, The Associated Press - MINNEAPOLIS
The attorney for a man who says he was sexually abused decades ago by a now-deceased priest at a Wisconsin school for the deaf alleged Sunday that the Vatican refused to be served with a lawsuit over the matter.
St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who frequently clashes with the Catholic hierarchy over abuse allegations, said Sunday in a news release that his office tried to serve the lawsuit naming as defendants Pope Benedict XVI and other high-ranking officials at the Vatican, but that it was returned via Federal Express.
Anderson's client, listed in court papers as John Doe, is a deaf man from Illinois who alleged in his lawsuit that the late Rev. Lawrence Murphy molested him for a number of years while Murphy worked at a Milwaukee-area school for the deaf. The lawsuit contends that Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials conspired to keep quiet decades of abuse allegations against Murphy.
Anderson did not immediately return a call Sunday seeking comment. According to his release, he is planning a news conference Monday in which he'll accuse the Vatican of "dragging out the healing of deaf victims."
Jeffrey Lena, the U.S.-based attorney for the Vatican, said in an e-mail Sunday that the lawsuit should have been served through diplomatic channels as would be done with any foreign state. He wrote that holding a news conference on such a matter "is really just a form of grandstanding by Mr. Anderson for the press and the public."
A U.S. federal judge had in October asked the Vatican to cooperate in serving court papers to the pope and two other Vatican officials, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The Vatican is not obliged to comply with such requests.
Murphy, who died in 1998, has been accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at the deaf school from 1950 to 1974. In 1996, Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland had complained about Murphy in a letter to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the powerful Vatican office led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from 1981 until he became pope in 2005.
That office initially ordered Weakland to hold a canonical trial against Murphy in 1997, but later changed course after a letter from the accused. The Vatican noted Murphy's advanced age, failing health and lack of further allegations.
The Vatican argues it's not liable for clerical sex-abuse cases under canon law and a church structure that holds bishops _ and not Rome _ responsible for disciplining pedophile priests.
Plaintiffs in a similar case in Oregon have sued the Vatican using a similar approach. Anderson represents clients in that proceeding as well, and on numerous occasions has expressed a desire to hold prominent Vatican leaders liable for sexual abuse by priests.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests