A US court has allowed three men to sue Pope Benedict XVI over sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The three claim they have been abused and have named Vatican as the only defendant in their lawsuit.
The men's case focuses on a 1962 directive from the Vatican telling church staff to hide sex abuse complaints against them.
The present Pope had headed the Vatican department that investigated abuse by clergy in the USA, and the three men seem to believe that he will come forward to tender evidence in their case.
Previously, the Vatican has been immune from most lawsuits because it is seen as a sovereign state.
But the 6th US circuit court of appeal has now ruled that the three abuse victims could sue the Pope.
William F McMurray, who represents the men, said the 1962 document makes the Vatican liable for any crimes that were kept secret because of the directive, The Guardian reported.
The men allege that they were abused between the 1920s and 1970s and are seeking class action status on behalf of all US victims, it was reported.
The Catholic Church in America has already paid out more than £1.3bn since 1950.