The Cost Of Protecting The Lavender Mafia

As I wrote here in this space from my Italian trip, the Vatican seems to be living in a dream world when it comes to the US sex abuse scandal. Pope Francis and his team appear to be willfully blind to the on-the-ground reality. They seem to be willing to go to extraordinary lengths to defend the Church’s lavender mafia from scrutiny. A Francis insider was reliably reported to me to have said privately that the McCarrick Affair could cause the Church to “implode.” His public comments — he’s someone you would know — do not reflect this concern at all. In fact, just the opposite. He’s pushing the line that this is merely an American thing, exaggerated and promoted by Americans who don’t like Francis. But I know that deep down, he understands how dangerous this is for the Church.

This e-mail just came in from a reader:

As an attorney, I can see at least one potential path that events could take if the Vatican continues to stonewall the abuse cases, including its role in covering up those cases, and it is not pretty. It runs something like this:

First, U.S. attorneys general open up multiple investigations on the child abuse cases based on the Pennsylvania model. The attorneys general in New York and Missouri have already started such investigations (with New York already issuing subpoenas), and the attorney general in New Jersey has set up a hotline. Attorneys general in five other states (Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Florida) have taken initial steps to begin an investigation or are publicly contemplating such an investigation.

Second, at some point, one or more of those investigations will determine that they need or want information from the Vatican to pursue their investigations. They will reach that conclusion when it becomes apparent to them either that the Vatican instructed one or more U.S. bishops not to publicly disclose certain information about recalcitrant priests or that the Vatican took other steps to cover up the scandal. After several fruitless efforts to get the Vatican to co-operate with their investigation(s), they could issue subpoenas to the Vatican to produce documents and/or witnesses.

Those investigators will know that the subpoenas are not legally enforceable — under international law, the Vatican is a separate country and can assert sovereign immunity to block legal process from another country. But the investigators will proceed to issue the subpoenas in order to increase public, political, and legal pressure on the Vatican to co-operate.

Third, the Vatican will assert sovereign immunity to block the subpoenas. There will be an immediate public uproar against the Church for continuing to block the investigations.

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