Sex abuse case against Vatican withdrawn

A high profile United States sex abuse lawyer, Jeffrey Anderson, has withdrawn a sex abuse case which held responsible Pope Benedict and senior church officials.

The Vatican’s US attorney, Jeffrey S. Lena, welcomed the decision saying the case was “held together by no more than a mendacious web of allegations of internal conspiracy.”

The case was filed at the height of the sexual abuse controversy in 2010. Anderson alleged the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and his deputies knew about allegations of sexual abuse involving the late Fr Lawrence Murphy at St John’s School for the deaf and failed to defrock him, despite numerous requests from US bishops.

Anderson argued that despite Murphy’s age and ill health, the Vatican was directly involved in protecting abusive priests.

Lena labelled the suit as a ‘meritless publicity stunt’.

Anderson however claimed that the goal was now accomplished in a secondary way, after a favorable ruling this past week from a federal court in which the Archdiocese of Milwaukee had filed bankruptcy. He said he was given 30,000 pages of new documents that show how Vatican officials were indifferent to reports of clergy sex abuse.

“There really is no compelling reason to move forward with this battle on two fronts when we’re making ground on one,” he said Saturday.

While his initial goal was to depose Ratzinger and other top officials, Anderson acknowledged that the legal impediments were proving to be enormous. He said at the least the new documents represent a “consolation prize — it’s not a victory but it’s still a real prize.”

Lena labelled Anderson’s settlement as “settling on a convenient excuse for dismissing the lawsuit.”

“The real reason is, he was required to file a response to our motion to dismiss, and he knew he was going to lose the suit,” Lena said.


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