Abuse victims suing Vatican

Five sexual abuse victims of priests will sue the Vatican to get names and details of the priests involved, an attorney for the group says.

The lawsuit in the US federal court aims to compel the Vatican to open its archives and “release all the identities of thousands of offenders known exclusively by the Vatican and held in strict secrecy,” lawyer Jeff Anderson says.

Anderson says he wants to show that the Vatican tried to cover up actions by top church officials including former Archbishop John Nienstedt and the 3,400 others who were referred to the Vatican for “credible cases of abuse.”

That number was released by the Vatican in 2014.

The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit include three brothers who were abused by a former priest as recently as 2012.

The priest pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct and child pornography in connection with his contact with two of the boys, who were 12 and 14. The brothers are not named in the press release.

The lawsuit comes less than a week after Pope Francis issued a new church law requiring all priests and nuns to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities.

The law is part of a new effort to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable and is expected to bring countless new cases of molestation to light.

Victims’ groups are dissatisfied, however, because the church law doesn’t compel reporting of abuses made in confession nor does it force dioceses to tell authorities when abuses are reported.

The Vatican is struggling to deal with a global epidemic of sexual assault by priests, in particular of minors. Much of the abuse has gone on for decades.

A grand jury investigation into dioceses in Pennsylvania published in 2018 threw light on sexual abuse by “over 300 predator priests” systematically covered up by the Church, with more than 1,000 child victims identifiable.


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