Sovereign Impunity: Does the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act Bar Lawsuits Against the Holy See in Clerical Sexual Abuse Cases? by ProQuest


This paper examines the applicability of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) to the Holy See in the context of civil suits filed in the U.S. alleging sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and members of religious orders. The cases raise significant issues, not only because of the underlying nature of the claims, but perhaps more importantly because of their potential to expand the jurisdiction of the federal courts to cover claims of human rights violations by foreign entities. While the Holy See occupies a sui generis status in the international order, as an entity whose juridical personality does not derive from nor depend on its sovereignty over a particular territory, its unique status may be seen as a precursor of the international community's recognition of and relationship with non-territorial entities such as liberation movements or emerging states. With such international recognition comes not only rights but also responsibilities. Holding foreign governments responsible for the torts of their agents in certain circumstances could also have implications for state sponsors of terrorism. The response of the federal courts to these high profile cases might lead to a willingness to admit claims against foreign entities that would previously have been foreclosed under FSIA. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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