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Federal court rules Vatican has immunity in clergy abuse suit

[JURIST] The US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky [official website] has ruled that the Holy See [official website] is a foreign state subject to immunity protections of the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text], placing limitations on a lawsuit by three men who allege a cover-up by the Vatican to protect priests who sexually abused children. The court dismissed the plaintiffs' argument that the Vatican is an international religious organization. The ruling has serious implications for other cases in which the Holy See appears as a defendant in the clergy sex abuse scandal [JURIST news archive]. Under the 1976 act, foreign states are generally immune from suits in US courts, but exceptions exist when states engage in commercial or certain harmful activities in the United States. In a separate clergy abuse lawsuit pending in a US district court in Texas, US government lawyers have argued that the Pope should enjoy immunity [JURIST report] as the head of the Vatican. AP has more.

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