The U.S. bishops' conference and the Holy See face a class action lawsuit filed by six men who claim they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy during their childhoods. They are seeking financial damages as well as public contrition and reparation from the Church.
The 80-page suit filed Nov. 13 claims that the Vatican and the bishops knew about – and covered up for – the “endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive rape and sexual abuse” of the plaintiffs and others at the hands of active members of the clergy, religious orders, and other Church representatives.
The suit opens by invoking two passages of Scripture: “(B)ut people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed,” and: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather, expose them.”
Rather than protect the plaintiffs, the lawsuit says Church leaders protected and – “incredibly” – promoted the offenders.
These kinds of “wrongful actions, inaction, omissions, cover-up, deception, and concealment” create a “conspiracy of silence to their financial and reputational benefit and to Plaintiffs’ and Class Members’ personal, mental, psychological, and financial detriment.” These actions are “ongoing and continuous” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. by four attorneys representing six individuals who lived in six different states at the time the abuse occurred – Iowa, California, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It does not specifically detail the cases of abuse reportedly suffered by the individuals.