What’s the statute of limitations on being screwed by the Vatican?

In news that will no doubt hearten conspiracy theorists, Dan Brown readers and opponents of the Roman Catholic Church, a group claiming to represent the Knights Templar are attempting to sue the Roman Catholic Church over their unfair treatment in the early 14th Century.

The Spanish based Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ are demanding that Pope Benedict recognise the past wrong-doing of the Church and the fact that they were done out of quite a lot of dosh. Now I know that Pope Benedict looks pretty bloody old, but I doubt that he was a party to the suppression of this famous Holy Order. Similarly, I’m not a legal expert (except when compared to my legally trained friend), but I’m fairly sure that you can’t sue someone for actions taken around 700 years ago, even in a Spanish court.

I think that this legal action pretty much falls in the jurisdiction of ‘making shit up for publicity’ which, although a popular pastime of some people who claim to have legal degrees, does not usually end in any enforceable action. Perhaps these modern day crusaders should set their aim on something more recent and sue Dan Brown for making them unwitting accomplices in one of the past decade’s worst crimes against fiction.

15 thoughts on “What’s the statute of limitations on being screwed by the Vatican?

  1. Thanks for the nod, Dennis. Because you laid the bait, and I have some work to do that is boring as all hell, let me surmise for the Applicant. A few issues to consider here: firstly, is there a statute of limitations for unfair treatment under current Spanish, Vatican or international law? Actions bought for generational abuse are not uncommon (see Mabo), nor are matters of public opinion, such as saying “Sorry”;

    Secondly, the fact that a head of an organisation was not in situ when the atrocities occurred, does not waive the institutions liability. If this was the case, then any time Microsoft was sued, they would simply dissolve the board and appoint a new head with a clean slate. This is of course dependant upon the Catholic Church being deemed an organisation similar to a company, rather than a collection of individuals. Most jurisdictions have a law that forbids personal actions against the head of Government or Sovereign, so it will have to be the church that is named as the respondent. On that point, a three beer argument could be made that their practices and structure leaves them accountable in this way. Also, the Pope may have set a precedent by apologising for sexual abuse and agreeing in the past to paying compensation for those crimes.

    Compensation for wrongs against an individual generally are only available during the victims lifetime (under Australian law in any event (in the U.S.A for example, a civil action can be bought against an individual by the victims estate; see O.J Simpson)); however, the rights of the company or other like institutions survive the passing of its CEO, director etc.

    So, are the Knights Templar being foolish? Most likely; however, if there is no statute of limitations and if they can argue that the Catholic Church is an institution (likewise, the same applies to their own body), liable to be sued as such, then they could cause the Vatican some headaches. That said, the burden of proof would most likely rest with the Knights, so proving the sins and the consequent losses would be very hard, I would think. Also, the emergence of Vatican II would no doubt me an obstacle.

    So here’s the real challenge: can the Catholic Church be deemed to be an organisation. Let’s see; they’re governed be a Chairman of the Board, elected by the committee from time to time; their head office is quite lavish compared to the dividend paid to its members. They hold regular members meetings at which they solicit ‘fees’; the board makes decisions for all members to follow; they have a constitution that must be followed but is subject to varying interpretations from time to time; they are not unknown to neglect the social good to benefit their ‘shareholders’ and their whole premise for existing is based upon a promise of the ultimate golden handshake. Sounds like a company to me. Come to think of it, has anyone seen Allan Moss and the Pope in the same room?

    Lastly, Brown may not be a Dickens or a Maugham, but he can write a rattling good yarn.

  2. I think you’ll find that the Bishop of Rome is also the head of the Holy See, which is a member of the United Nations and an accepted sovereign state.

    Perhaps they could go to the Hague?

  3. And before you decide to respond on behalf of the shareholders of my employer, I’d like to make it known that when I skive on the job I’m smashing the system, you’re just being a bludger.

  4. Hello Dennis, Lionel and Honorable Forum,

    About the Spaniard Knights Templar (KT) and their lawsuit against the Pope and Catholic Church, I strongly believe they will be successful to get restored their good name plus a pecuniary restitution. Why? Because, the recognition is significant to the Church’s transformation and survival according to the new time over us. In regarding to the Statute of Limitations as understood today, it has two sides like the recent lawsuit won by a lone accountant, Charles Ulrich after 7 years against the IRS.

    Such case in highly relevant and interesting at the same time, just because the most of people affected lost their right to sue the IRS in reason of expired period by the Statute of Limitations, 4 years; http://www.theconservativevoice.com/ap/article.html?mi=D92OTCU00&apc=9004 and http://www.demutualization.biz/). Now, if the IRS appeals the decision favoring the accountant, the Statute of Limitations will come alive for more two years, and then the IRS would receive a flood of refund claims.

    In such perspective, the KT just need to be patient for about 7 years until they find a reasonable court that carry on their case. At the end, the Church will be at easy because the KT are their pairs in the same way the KT assisted the pilgrims many centuries ago while serving the Church.

    Thank you all for your illustrative commentaries that enriched me a lot.

    Have a nice new day,

    Guillermo Rivera

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