Thursday, April 22, an Illinois man filed a federal lawsuit against Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican. Identified as John Doe 16 in court documents, the man says he was molested as a child by a the late Father Lawrence Murphy, a Wisconsin priest. John Doe 16 accuses the Pope and Vatican of failing to discipline a known pedophile priest. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit seeks the disclosure of confidential Vatican documents, monetary damages, and a jury trial.
This lawsuit concentrates on Father Lawrence Murphy and the failure of the Vatican to take action against him. Once allegations against Murphy were made and since those allegations were linked to the confessional, the plantiff claims that Murphy’s case should have been referred to the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the head of the CDF when the allegations were made in 1996, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger–now Pope Benedict XVI–knowingly failed to discipline Murphy. To read more about this case, click here or here.
While this lawsuit is unprecedented, the allegations that Church authorities did not properly discipline priests accused of pedophilia in the United States, Europe, and South America have increased in number and fervor recently. To read the New York Times: Topics on this issue, click here.
Although the Vatican had no initial comment to Thursday’s lawsuit, on Wednesday, April 21 the Pope commented on the global church scandal by promising to face the allegations directly and to take action. To read more, click here.
Church–State Relations in Europe
By Russell Sandberg and Norman Doe , Cardiff University
(Vol. 2, September 2007)
Ethics and Religion
By G. Scott Davis , University of Richmond
(Vol. 3, October 2008)