Pope immunity request won’t stop abuse case-lawyer
By Shasta Darlington
ROME - A US lawyer said on Wednesday he will press ahead with a lawsuit alleging Pope Benedict conspired to cover up the abuse of three boys by a seminary student in Texas, despite the Pontiff’s request for diplomatic immunity.
“This diplomatic move has stopped the suit right in its early stages,” Daniel Shea, who represents one of three plaintiffs in the unprecedented civil suit, told Reuters.
“But there are various avenues we can go down depending on what the (US) State Department does next,” he said, adding that he hoped to take a deposition from the Pope as early as the end of this year.
The Vatican’s embassy in Washington filed a request in May for the US government to declare immunity for Pope Benedict as a head of state, according to documents provided by Shea.
Shea called a news conference in Rome on Wednesday to announce that he would pursue the case. On Tuesday, he took part in a demonstration organised by Italy’s Radical Party urging President George W. Bush to refuse the Pope’s immunity request.
The suit alleging the boys were abused in the mid-1990s was filed in June last year. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named as a defendant in the case in January, four months before he was elected Pope John Paul’s successor on April 19.
Ratzinger is accused of conspiring with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to cover up the alleged abuse by seminary student Juan Carlos Patino-Arango. US courts have issued an arrest warrant for Patino-Arango, who is on the run.
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