Diplomatic immunity

Earlier this month I noticed an article in the Sunday Times relating how the Vatican’s diplomatic immunity had been waived in a US-based child sexual abuse case where the claimant alledges that the vatican knowingly transferred a priest to their diocese when they had strong grounds to believe he was a serial perpetrator of sexual abuse against children.
I didn’t notice the case reported in any of the other papers although I’m open to the possibility that it was. The following extract is taken from the University of Pittsburgh’s Jurist website. It’s

“A federal judge in Oregon allowed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Catholic Church to move forward Wednesday, rejecting the Vatican’s bid to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction. The ruling allows a Seattle-area man to continue with his claim [complaint, PDF] that the Holy See [official website] is liable for transferring the Rev. Andrew Ronan from Ireland to Chicago to Portland, even though the church knew Ronan had a history of sexual abuse. The lawsuit, filed in 2002 [AP report] in the US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website], alleges the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Portland and the archbishop of Chicago conspired to protect Ronan by transferring him from city to city. District Judge Michael Mosman [official profile] ruled that Ronan was an employee of the Vatican under Oregon law and noted that there are exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text], which typically grants the Vatican and other foreign states immunity in US courts. The 1976 act does not shield states when engaged in commercial or certain harmful activities in the United States. The judge added that the Holy See offered no evidence contradicting its involvement in transferring Ronan to protect him.”

By deeming that under Oregon law the priest was an employee of the vatican, its immunity was waived. However, I was surprised by the additional piece of information obtained from the Sunday Times report.

“The ruling follows a four-year legal battle in which the Vatican insisted that the alleged victim spend at least $40,000 (£21,700) translating all legal documents into Latin, the official language of the Holy See.”

I think it reasonable and truthful to describe the following as chicanery:

“The Vatican twice rejected translations by two American Latin professors, saying their translation of “court”, “conspiracy to commit fraud” and “defendant” and many other phrases were incorrect. The two professors hired by the Anderson firm also had to translate modern terms such as “fax number” (numerus isographicus) and e-mail (inscriptio electronica) as well as dense legal arguments relating to foreign immunity. The Vatican gave up its battle against the translations last December.

I think I’ll finish with a fitting entry from the Book of Job

“Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, / How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? / Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? / If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; / If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; / If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.”