Responding to a recent lawsuit that argues the Vatican is responsible for bishops who failed to report clerical sex abuse, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee weighed-in on the issue Tuesday, stressing that according to cannon law, the responsibility “always falls on the shoulders of the bishops,” not the Vatican.
The Wisconsin archbishop made his comments to local TV channel WISN 12 News in the wake of attorney William McMurry's attempt to lodge a federal lawsuit against the Vatican in Louisville, Kentucky.
McMurry is seeking class-action status for a case involving three men who claim they were abused by priests decades ago. He also represented 243 sex abuse victims who settled with the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2003 for $25.3 million.
Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican's lawyer in the U.S., argued on Monday that that U.S. bishops do not qualify as employees of the Vatican and that therefore the Holy See cannot be implicated for the failure of the bishops to report clerical sex abuse.
Archbishop Listecki said he believes the Vatican is trying to teach people about the difference between the actions of the bishops and the jurisdiction that the Holy See exercises under canon law.
“As individuals try to make the chain and try to go up and lay a larger and larger responsibility,” he said, “you have to take a look at what procedures govern the church, and I think the Vatican was just pointing that out to people, a type of education.”
“In canon law, the responsibility always falls on the shoulders of the bishops,” the archbishop underscored.