Pope seeks immunity in Texas abuse case

August 17, 2005

VATICAN CITY -- Lawyers for Pope Benedict XVI have asked President Bush to declare the pontiff immune from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys by a seminarian in Texas, court records show.

The Vatican's embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic memo to the State Department on May 20 requesting the U.S. government grant the pope immunity because he is a head of state, according to a May 26 motion submitted by the pope's lawyers in U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Texas in Houston.

Joseph Ratzinger is named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit. Now Benedict XVI, he's accused of conspiring with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to cover up the abuse during the mid-1990s.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Gerry Keener, said Tuesday that the pope is considered a head of state and automatically has diplomatic immunity.

Lawyers for abuse victims say the case is significant because previous attempts to implicate the Vatican, the pope or other church officials in U.S. sex abuse proceedings have failed -- primarily because of immunity claims and the difficulty serving Vatican officials with U.S. lawsuits.

The Pope has LAWYERS? It was enough of a shock to find out, back in the 70's, when the surrealist artist tried to stab Pope Paul VI at the Manila Airport, that the Pope has BODYGUARDS! I mean, the Vicar of Christ on Earth is afraid to die? But this?

So now that he's head of state, he can't be sued? Is that legal? I mean if George W. Bush had been caught committing camelingus on one of the Ben Laden family herd when visiting Riyadh as a private citizen years ago, and the statute of limitations had not expired, would he be immune from suit? Didn't they go after Bill Clinton for stuff they thought he might have done BEFORE he became president? And the Pope has LAWYERS?


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