Photo Credits: Pixabay
Victims of clergy abuse are seeking to hold the Vatican responsible for mishandling cases and for protecting predator priests. Several people filed a federal lawsuit against the Vatican, claiming the Holy See bears responsibility for what happened to them. Three brothers, Luke, Stephen and Ben Hoffman were abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis somewhere between 2009 and 2012. They are claiming that former Archbishop John Nienstedt and Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, Carlo Maria Viganò, mishandled the case. The lawsuit’s plaintiffs also include two other men who say they were molested by Catholic priests in Minnesota and in California.
The lawsuit is trying to connect clergy sex abuse victims directly to the Vatican through Minnesota church officials and is seeking monetary damages for the victims. Besides this, the lawsuit asks for court orders requiring the Vatican to turn over names of “credibly accused” priests, whose cases have been referred to the Holy See, along with related records and the names of church leaders who have been implicit in covering up abuse.
When the Hoffman brothers were abused, church officials were already aware of Wehmeyer’s inappropriate sexual activities because they received complaints about it. Wehmeyer was later evaluated at a treatment center for troubled priests and diagnosed with a sexual disorder. In 2009, Nienstedt promoted Wehmeyer to pastor and that was about the time Wehmeyer started abusing the Hoffman brothers. According to the lawsuit, Nienstedt was cautioned about Wehmeyer’s record by another official but that did not help. Wehmeyer abused brothers during camping trips and after the boys’ mother reported the abuse to police, he was arrested and pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography.
With this lawsuit, the Hoffman brothers are trying to prevent something like this from happening to other children and they want the Vatican to fix similar problems inside the Church. According to Fox News Service, Ben Hoffman said the church needs to be more transparent and "live in the truth." Ben added, "I'm still Catholic. I have a deep love for the church. I have a deep love for my faith, it means the world to me. But the Vatican — we have to fix this," he said, his eyes watering. "I have too many nieces and nephews to let something like this happen to anybody else," Stephen Hoffman said about his decision to come forward.