An Irish abuse victim dropped a civil suit against his local diocese and the Vatican after its most senior representative in Australia invoked diplomatic immunity, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Colm O’Gorman told the Herald that Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the apostolic nuncio in Australia since 2008, had invoked immunity after O’Gorman launched a suit against his local diocese and the Vatican, over his abuse by Fr Seán Fortune.
Mr O’Gorman, a human rights advocate and long-time campaigner for victims of clerical child sexual abuse, is now an executive director at Amnesty International Ireland.
The archbishop was serving in the apostolic nuncio in Ireland at the time Mr O’Gorman filed the suit.
The Herald reports the archbishop left the role prior to the release of the 2009 Murphy Report into sexual abuse in the Dublin archdiocese.
However, the report criticized him for failing to cooperate fully with the inquiry’s 2007 request for information.
Mr O’Gorman dropped the suit in 2003 after Archbishop Lazzarotto’s lawyers obtained a certificate of diplomatic immunity.
”I was told in no uncertain terms that having secured diplomatic immunity, the nuncio would assert it in court,” Mr O’Gorman told the Herald.
”His lawyers told me that if I pursued the case, they would use that immunity to have it thrown out and then seek full legal costs from me.”
Mr O’Gorman received a financial settlement in the case with his local diocese.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has told the Herald the church had offered full co-operation with the Murphy Commission.
Referring to the civil suit, its spokeswoman said: ”Archbishop Lazzarotto, on behalf of the Holy See, accepted the proposal that the case be discontinued by mutual consent.”
A spokesman for the Apostolic Nunciature in Canberra told the Herald the Vatican’s representatives had no role in investigating sexual abuse cases.