Belief Beat

Updated at 4:30 p.m. to add attorney responses:

Some good news for Pope Benedict: the Obama administration, in a brief filed by Solicitor General and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, has sided with the Vatican in the 2002 Oregon lawsuit pending SCOTUS review over sex abuse claims, saying that the Holy See has diplomatic foreign sovereign immunity. (This doesn’t address the other point of contention with these Vatican lawsuits: can American clergy be considered Vatican employees or not?)

The brief was filed Friday, and suggests that the Supreme Court send the case back for further consideration. Check out John L. Allen Jr.’s story in National Catholic Reporter for more details. The Wall Street Journal reports that victims advocate Jeff Anderson finds the brief “a little perplexing” but remains heartened that it didn’t recommend more drastic action. No word yet on any response from Vatican’s U.S. attorney Jeffrey Lena, such as whether he will now push to get the Supreme Court to dismiss the case entirely.

In related news so far this week, here’s some links from Religion News Service’s blog:

The head of the Italian bishops conference is asking Catholic families to “trust” the church to do the right thing in handling the abuse scandal. Victims’ advocates don’t like that a former Massachusetts bishop has moved from a treatment center for troubled priests into a retirement facility in Washington. Catholic officials in Vermont will sell church headquarters and 32 lakefront acres in Burlington to help funds a massive sex abuse settlement.

An Australian Catholic bishop blamed the sex abuse scandal on the Catholic Church’s focus on “sin and forgiveness rather than crime and punishment.” A Polish priest has turned himself into police in Brazil after authorities said transformed his rectory into an “erotic dungeon.”

Sheesh — it’s only Tuesday! Check back for updates and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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