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Vatican dismisses Wisconsin lawsuit as 'completely without merit'

Catholic World News - April 23, 2010

The Vatican has dismissed as "completely without merit" a federal lawsuit brought in US court by sex-abuse victims in Wisconsin.

"While legitimate lawsuits have been filed by abuse victims, this is not one of them," said Jeffrey Lena, an attorney representing the Holy See in the US. He noted that the court filing "rehashes old theories already rejected by US courts."

In the federal lawsuit, attorney Jeffrey Anderson makes the novel argument that the Catholic Church is a worldwide business enterprise, with the Vatican controlling every detail of the "commercial activity" down to the parish level.

While expressing sympathy for the victims of the late Father Lawrence Murphy, who are the named plaintiffs in the suit, attorney Lena notes that the Vatian "knew nothing of his crimes until decades after the abuse occurred, and had no role whatsoever in causing plaintiffs' injuries."

The suit, he said, is being exploited as "a platform for a broader attack" on the Catholic Church. It is, Lena said, "simply the latest attempt by certain U.S. lawyers to use the judicial process as a tool of media relations."

While most American analysts agreed that the lawsuit is heavy odds against its success, the New York Times-- which had highlighted the Murphy abuse cases in a front-page story in March, for which the plaintiff's attorney Anderson was a main source-- called attention to new documents suggesting that Murphy's victims had brought their case to the attention of Vatican officials earlier than previously believed.

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  • Posted by: Steve214 - Apr. 23, 2010 5:36 PM ET USA

    I know that it is painful and even tiresome to read all of these articles: but they are important. They are important because our neighbors are reading them, and we have to be prepared to explain. They are also important because they show a side of the Church in recent decades that has been truly appalling--the result of lack of discipline. We must pray, donate with wisdom, etc.

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