In a recent English court case a Judge held that the Catholic Church and Senior Bishops can be held legally responsible for sexual abuse by priests.
A decision was given in favour of a 47 year old woman who claims that she was sexually assaulted as a child by a deceased priest.
The woman was a resident of a children’s home run by an order of nuns.
The Judge held that the church “may be vicariously liable”.
This means that by virtue of the relationship between the church, the bishop, and the abusing priest, the church can be held responsible for the actions of the priest, as she was under the care of the church at the time.
This was the first time a court had been asked to rule on whether the relationship between a catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an employment relationship. Clearly the courts in England are ruling towards holding that bishops and the church are responsible for the actions of priests who serve under the bishop and while a member of the church.
The claimant in this case is seeking damages for personal injury. She alleges she was sexual abused and raped by the priest in 2006 when she was a resident at the children’s home. The Judge stated that the priest was appointed by and on behalf of the church and the bishop. He was so appointed in order to do the work of the church and the work of the bishop.
He said it as they who appointed him to the position of trust which (if the allegations be proved) he so abused.
If you or anyone close to you has suffered abuse while under the care of the church, please contact Tim or Vincent Shannon to discuss the matter further, telephone 01 8401780 or email

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