An attorney attempting to sue the Vatican in a sex abuse case failed to follow proper diplomatic channels in his try to serve the lawsuit, the Holy See’s U.S. lawyer says. He charged that the attorney is “grandstanding.”
Jeff Anderson, from St. Paul, Minnesota, represents a deaf man who says he was sexually abused decades ago by Fr. Lawrence Murphy, a now-deceased priest at a Wisconsin school for the deaf. Anderson’s lawsuit charges that Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials conspired to cover up the allegations.
He claimed on Jan. 30 that the Vatican refused to be served with the lawsuit and returned it via Federal Express.
Anderson, who has been involved in many lawsuits against Catholic dioceses in the U.S., scheduled a news conference on Jan. 31 to accuse the Vatican of “dragging out the healing of deaf victims.” He said he plans to ask Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York to bring the case to the Pope’s attention.
Archbishop Dolan is the U.S. bishops’ conference president and former Archbishop of Milwaukee.
Jeffrey Lena, the U.S.-based attorney for the Vatican, said in a Jan. 30 e-mail that the lawsuit should have been served through diplomatic channels as would be done with any foreign state. Holding a news conference on the matter, he told the Associated Press, is “really just a form of grandstanding by Mr. Anderson for the press and the public.”
The Vatican has said that local bishops are responsible for disciplining sexually abusive priests.