A federal U.S. judge is asking the Vatican to cooperate in serving the pope and two other top officials with court papers that stem from decades-old allegations of priest sexual abuse in Wisconsin.
The lawsuit, filed in April in U.S federal court, claims Pope Benedict XV, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, and his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano knew about allegations of sexual abuse at a Milwaukee area school for the deaf, and called off internal punishment of the accused priest. The Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who died in 1998, was accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at the school from 1950 to 1974
The request is an incremental step in a lawsuit that accuses the officials of conspiring to keep the allegations against a Milwaukee priest quiet. The Vatican is not obliged to comply with the request.
Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s U.S. based attorney has called the lawsuit a publicity stunt and said it rehashes theories already rejected by U.S. courts.
“This is a minor procedural step by plaintiff’s lawyers in a meritless lawsuit” he said. He added that it refers to abuse that occurred in the 1970s, which he said was more than 20 years before the holy See first learned of the priest’s actions.
Most importantly, the Vatican is not required to comply with such request. Having to translate the court order into Latin and other time consuming requirements seems like a waste of time and resources for a meritless lawsuit that only seeks to obtain negative publicity for the Catholic Church.