LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Three men who sought to hold the Vatican liable in an American court for sexual abuses by Roman Catholic priests are abandoning the case, according to a court motion filed Monday.
Lawyers looked to question Pope Benedict XVI under oath but had to leap the high legal hurdle of the Vatican's sovereign immunity status in the United States.
The Kentucky lawsuit was considered the first in the United States to make it to the stage of determining whether victims had a negligence claim against the Vatican. The Vatican argued that the plaintiffs never showed a connection between Rome and the American clergy abuse scandal.
The plaintiffs filed a motion on Monday asking a federal judge in Louisville to dismiss their claims.
Their attorney, William McMurry, said he was seeking to end the case because of the Vatican's immunity and failure to turn up new plaintiffs who haven't yet been involved in a Catholic clergy abuse case.
"Virtually every child who was abused and will come forward as an adult has come forward and sued a bishop and collected money, and once that happens, it's over," McMurry said.
He represented more than 240 abuse victims who settled with the Louisville Catholic archdiocese for $25 million in 2003.
An attorney for the Vatican, which is referred to in the lawsuit as the Holy See, said the lawsuit lacked merit.
"This development confirms that, contrary to what the plaintiffs' lawyers repeatedly told the media, there has never been a Holy See policy requiring concealment of child sexual abuse," Jeffrey Lena said in a statement. "The theory crafted by the plaintiffs' lawyers six years ago misled the American public."