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Here is an interesting development in the pedophile priest scandals that have been plaguing that Catholic Church for many years. On March 26, 2010, I reported , at this location, that the Pope himself may have been involved in a cover-up that permitted a pedophile priest to remain in parish work around children. Now comes a story from WBKO of Kentucky that, for the first time, a United States court will decide if the Pope can be held responsible for the nationwide scandal.

The case is pending in federal court in Louisville; it was originally filed in 2004 by three Kentucky men and their attorney, someone who has previously represented an astounding 200 abuse victims. The Vatican is vigorously resisting the Pope’s involvement in the suit, arguing that he is a "Head of State". The lawsuit argues that the Holy See was negligent in failing to properly handle abuse reports and prevent repeat conduct by offending priests. Vatican attorneys are attempting to get the case dismissed before the Pope can be deposed or be forced to proffer documents under subpoena.

As usual, Church leaders have circled the wagons and defended the boss. The argue, through court documents, the American bishops who oversaw American-based pedophile priests are not employed by the Holy See. Further, they defend the record of the current Pope. The station quotes New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan:

"Certain sources seem almost frenzied to implicate the man who perhaps more than anybody else has been the leader in purification, reform and renewal…."

That is all well and good, and, perhaps, he has attempted to clean up the Church’s act, but where were his highly respected predecessors during the scandals of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and in the first decade of the 21st Century? These abuse scandals have been going on for 1/2 a century or more (that we know of) and the evidence is overwhelming that Church hierarchy knew about the many incidents of abuse, in venues all over the world, and engaged in a concerted policy of cover-up, transfer and priest retention. Only God knows why they would cover up these despicable acts and defend those who perpetrated them against helpless children who represented the future of the Church. Where is the end-game benefit of such a strategy?

In the case that I handled in the 1980’s, I was unable to involve the Holy See; the Michigan Circuit Court judge handling my case did not find a causal nexus. Since I was able to accomplish what I set out to do without involving the Pope, I was content to "keep it local", but there was no doubt in my mind then, and there is no doubt in my mind now, that this scandal has far reaching proportions. Recent reports would indicate (without surprise to this legal reporter) that it reaches all the way to the Papacy. If it does not, the Pope should be willing to answer questions and dispel all rumors, regardless of his lofty position. If he is complicit in any cover-up for any incident of abuse or on behalf of any pedophile priest, as many suspect, he should admit his failings and resign, in disgrace.

Lawsuit Financial, the pro-justice lawsuit funding company, opines that today, in the 21st century, it is high time that the Catholic Church examine its policy of unmarried priests. On its past record, the policy of training for the priesthood, only those who are willing to be married only to the Church and who vow an oath of celibacy, is an abject failure. It also brings down and casts suspicion upon all priests, including those well-respected, non-pedophile, devoted men of God, who practice their vocation only for the good of their parishioners, and society in general. Only when Church hierarchy begins to embrace a zero tolerance policy for the hiring, training and retention of the criminal elements of our society will it begin to regain credibility in the world-wide religious community. Today, it is a laughing stock.

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