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Judge dismisses civil suit against Pope, recognizing head of state immunity

[JURIST] A US District Court judge Thursday dismissed a civil suit accusing Pope Benedict XVI [official profile] of conspiring to conceal clergy sex abuse [JURIST news archive], citing the pontiff's immunity as head of the Vatican state [official website]. Judge Lee Rosenthal, of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, ruled in response to a "Suggestion of Immunity" submitted by the Department of Justice [JURIST report], requesting the Pope be granted immunity because of incompatibility with the "United States' foreign policy interests." Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that Benedict, while serving as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder], conspired with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston [diocesan website] to cover up the abuse of three male children in the mid-1990's. A lawyer for the Pope said the ruling was significant because it treated the religious leader as the head of a foreign state. AP has more.

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