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US says Pope immune from clergy abuse lawsuit

[JURIST] The US government has argued in a court filing that Pope Benedict XVI [official profile] has immunity as the head of the Vatican state [official website] and that a lawsuit against him should be dismissed. The lawsuit pending in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas charges the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his role as head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder] with covering up clergy sex abuse [JURIST news archive], including that of a seminarian at a Houston church in the mid-1990s. Similar lawsuits against high-ranking Catholic officials typically are unsuccessful because they are not served, but Pope Benedict XVI was in this case. Motions by the US government that such suits would interfere with the nation's foreign policy interests have typically resulted in their dismissal. US District Judge Lee Rosenthal did not immediately rule on the government motion. Meanwhile a Catholic website reported [CWNews.com report] Monday that Pope Benedict has recently approved an internal church policy barring the ordination of gay men [Newsday report] as priests, even if they are chaste. The instruction, which is to be made public in October, is said to be part of an effort to protect the church from future sex abuse scandals. AP has more.

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