Skip to comments.Vatican Win: Judge Says Priests Aren't Employees
Posted on 08/21/2012 6:59:22 AM PDT by marshmallow
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Vatican won a major victory Monday in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who said the Rev. Andrew Ronan repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.
The plaintiff tried to show that Ronan and all priests are employees of the Vatican, which is therefore liable for their actions.
Mosman made a previous decision strictly on legal theory and determined that, if all the factual assertions made by the plaintiff's lawyers in the case were true and applicable, then the Vatican would indeed employ Ronan. But on Monday, Mosman said he looked at the facts in the case and didn't find an employer-employee relationship.
"There are no facts to create a true employment relationship between Ronan and the Holy See," Mosman said in his ruling from the bench.
Jeff Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff, said he will appeal the decision.
"While we're disappointed, of course, we're not discouraged," Anderson said.
Vatican attorney Jeff Lena said the case should put to rest the notion that the Holy See is liable for the actions of priests.
"This is a case in which, for the first time, a court in the U.S. has taken a careful, factual look at whether or not a priest in the U.S. can be viewed as an employee of the Holy See and the answer, unequivocally, was no," Lena said.
The case is the last major U.S. sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See. Cases in Kentucky and Wisconsin have been dropped in recent...
(Excerpt) Read more at hosted.ap.org ...
They are an employee of the Diocese they are in. that’s what it says on my Pastor’s W-2 form.
The big test is what the Court of Appeals will say once this gets appealed. I note the case was filed in a 9th Circuit court so that’s who will hear the appeal. I’m sure that’s not a coincidence.
I'm asking this as a non-RC: How does a priest get to a diocese in the first place? Does the diocese offer the priest the position? Or is the priest assigned to the diocese by someone else?
I was stunned when my Pastor told me he was not an employee of the Diocese but an “independent contractor” who had to cough-up his own FICA match.
Now I know why.
Yes. Let us suppose, for the sake of discussion, that you were a Catholic man living in West Virginia ... and you thought perhaps that you were called to the priestly ministry. The Diocesan website offers you some guidance on how to go about pursuing that possible vocation. Note that Step 2 "The Application Process" involves an interview with the Bishop.
To add on to what arrogantbustard said, some dioceses have their own seminaries and the students from that diocese tend to stay in those dioceses.
After they are ordained they are assigned to a parish and then get reassigned every so often to another parish.
Or a priest can choose to become a member of an order. The brother of one of our church employees, for example, chose to become a Norobertine and is going to school out of the state — I believe in California.
It usually happens in one of three ways:
1) A man becomes a priest in the diocese he lives in. He discerns that he is called to the priesthood, applies to the seminary for the diocese he lives in, attends seminary for 7 years, is eventually ordained, and works in that diocese for the rest of his life.
2) A man decides to become a priest in a diocese other than his own - for whatever reason. He might like the idea of working for a particular bishop more than the one in his diocese, etc.
3) A man discerns a vocation to the priesthood and joins a particular order: Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, or any other, and goes (sometimes) very far from home to train for that religious order.
First of all, it will limit losses from lawsuits starting at the congregation/diocese level. In other words, the Lincoln diocese has no financial obligation (under the law) for what happens in the Davenport diocese.
But, from experience, the next step will not be pretty. By doing this, every diocese and in some cases every congregation is a stand alone congregation. The Vatican and even the local Bishop will not have any legal control over them. Just wait till a diocese decides it wants bishop A when the Vatican says bishop B.
A similar thing happened in the LCMS a few years ago, after 911 (long story). You ended up with a court ruling stating that the local pastors were not employees of the Synod, which led to a lot of chaos.
The way that churches are incorporated in the US is insane, and in many ways hypocritical. The legal paperwork does not match the doctrine.
Thanks for the info. So, from your point #2, if a priest is working in, say, New York, he would be free to apply to a diocese anywhere else if he so wished?
The new bishop would have to agree to accept him and the old bishop would have to agree to let him go. He would then be incardinated in the new diocese and excardinated in the old. His faculties would be from his new bishop.
If a priest is incardinated (and that’s the key word here; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incardination_and_excardination) in the Diocese of New York, he is expected tp stay in that diocese. He cannot just pick up and move to another diocese and function as a priest. If he wishes to leave the Diocese of New York, however, and his bishop agrees, he can be lent to another diocese for several years and then officially incardinated there (as long as all parties agree).
That’s what the Code of Canon Law makes clear:
THE ENROLLMENT, OR INCARDINATION, OF CLERICS
Can. 265 Every cleric must be incardinated either in a particular church or personal prelature, or in an institute of consecrated life or society endowed with this faculty, in such a way that unattached or transient clerics are not allowed at all.
Can. 266 §1. Through the reception of the diaconate, a person becomes a cleric and is incardinated in the particular church or personal prelature for whose service he has been advanced.
Example: I know a priest from South America. He wanted to be a missionary priest in America to work among Hispanics here. He was accepted as a seminarian in a diocese in a western U.S. state. They sent him to a Benedictine seminary college in another state tp finish his education. He was ordained by the diocese which sent him there, but only worked for a brief time in that diocese. He hated it there. Didn’t like the bishop - because he thought he wasn’t upholding Catholic teaching. He asked for permission to go to a midwestern diocese, receieved it, has been successful there (among both anglos and hispanics by the way), and will eventually incardinated in that midwestern diocese.