A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Federal court accuses the Vatican of directly covering up the accusations of sexual abuse by U.S. priests, including one here in Chicago.
Attorney Jeff Anderson said he is bringing the suit on behalf of a woman whose son was sexually abused by Fr. Daniel McCormack.
"All the problems of this kind lead to Rome and to the Vatican," Anderson said, alleging that the Holy See is engaging in a criminal conspiracy to conceal the abuse by McCormack.
"It is the protocols, their practices and their polices that demand secrecy... that allow this to continue unabated," he said.
In 2008, the Archdiocese of Chicago agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle claims brought by five McCormack victims, including the one involved in this case.
But Anderson said the Vatican was not named in that settlement and his suit is designed to hold top Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict, responsible for covering up abuse.
According to the lawsuit, McCormack raised funds for the annual Peter’s Pence collection benefitting the Vatican while church officials knew he was involved with sexual misconduct with children.
A lawyer representing the Vatican says there is no merit to the case.
Attorney Jeffery Lena says it "rehashes the same tired theories already rejected by U.S. Courts."
The Holy See maintains that, as a sovereign nation, it cannot be sued under U.S. law.
Fr. McCormick pleaded guilty to sexually abusing children in 2007, and has already served his sentence, but is still in state custody. Prosecutors are seeking to have him detained indefinitely as a "sexually violent predator."