With various legal cases pending against the pope and the Vatican in the United States, it would make sense for the pontiff to have his own lawyer in this country.

Well, he does.

From the Washington Post:

This is a bad time for Jeffrey Lena to have quit caffeine.

In Kentucky, the 51-year-old attorney is defending Pope Benedict XVI from a deposition motion in a case involving child abuse by clergy. In a suit pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Lena argues that the court has no jurisdiction to try the Vatican for transferring a predatory priest from Ireland to Oregon. In Mississippi, he is defending the Vatican against accusations that it participated in a money laundering scheme. In New York, Lena is defending the Holy See in a commercial licensing dispute about the use of images belonging to the Vatican Museums.

Wherever in the United States the Vatican stands accused, Lena is there to protect it.

“I am counsel for the Holy See,” said Lena.

As an international clerical sex abuse scandal has rocked the Roman Catholic Church and raised profound questions about the meaning of sin and crime, penance and punishment, church and state, Lena, a sole practitioner who works out of a small office in Northern California where his wife has kept the books, has taken the lead in defending the Vatican in the courts of law and public opinion. That means the mild-mannered and exceedingly reclusive comparative law specialist is swamped. And he looks it.

Puffy bags hung under Lena’s brown eyes on Wednesday morning as he ordered an herbal pomegranate tea at a Washington coffee shop. With waves of salt-and-pepper hair, a workman build, unclipped fingernails and an outfit of plaid flannel shirt, blue jeans and black shoes, Lena doesn’t look the part of advocate for the supreme pontiff of the universal church, prince of the apostles, and vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth.

The genesis of Lena’s employment with the Vatican is an enduring church mystery upon which he refuses to shed any light.

“I’ve never wished to be in the public eye,” said Lena, who once spent three hours hiding out in an empty Austin courtroom to avoid photographers. “And this is like suddenly crossing a divide from a private to public figure and I wish to retain my privacy.”

Nonetheless, there is a lot that the Washington Post found out about him, and you can find it at the link.

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