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Vatican to appeal immunity ruling to Ninth Circuit

[JURIST] The Vatican [official website] has filed an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit seeking to overturn this week's decision by a district court judge to allow a clergy abuse lawsuit to proceed [JURIST report] that names the Holy See as a defendant. US District Judge Michael Mosman refused to dismiss a clergy sex abuse [JURIST news archive] lawsuit naming the Vatican as the defendant, despite the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text] which generally protects nations from being sued in the US. Mosman ruled that Rev. Andrew Ronan, the priest involved in the lawsuit, was an employee of the Vatican under Oregon law and noted that under exceptions to FSIA, states are not protected when they engage in commercial or certain harmful activities in the United States. Other federal courts have refused to allow suits against the Vatican and the Pope to proceed - a federal court in Kentucky dismissed a sex abuse lawsuit against the Vatican [JURIST report] last October, ruling that the Holy See is a foreign state entitled to immunity protections under the act, and, in December, a federal judge in Texas held that the Pope enjoys immunity as the head of the Vatican [JURIST report].

The lawsuit [complaint, PDF] alleges that the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Portland and the archbishop of Chicago conspired to transfer Ronan from Ireland to Chicago to Portland with the knowledge that he had a history of sexual abuse. The plaintiff claims he was molested by Ronan as a teenager while Ronan was located in Portland. AP has more.

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