The European rights court says sexual abuses committed by Catholic priests for decades cannot be attributed to the Holy See.

In this Oct. 10, 2021 file photo, Pope Francis holds the pastoral staff as he celebrates a mass in St Peter's Basilica for the opening of the bishops' synod, at the Vatican.
In this Oct. 10, 2021 file photo, Pope Francis holds the pastoral staff as he celebrates a mass in St Peter's Basilica for the opening of the bishops' synod, at the Vatican. (AP)

A European court has agreed that the Vatican couldn't be sued in a local court for sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests.

The court affirmed that the Vatican enjoys sovereign immunity and that the misconduct of priests and their superiors cannot be attributed to the Holy See.

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday dismissed a case brought by 24 people who said they were victims of abusive priests in Belgium. 

The 24 had argued the Holy See was liable due to the “structurally deficient" way the Catholic hierarchy had for decades covered up cases of priests who raped and molested children.

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The 24 appealed to the Strasbourg-based court after Belgian courts ruled they had no jurisdiction given the Holy See’s immunity as a sovereign state.

The European court said the Belgian courts were correct and that the victims’ hadn’t been deprived of their right to have access to a court. 

It restated the Belgian court ruling that the Holy See enjoys sovereign immunity and that no exception to that rule applied since the misconduct of bishops in handling abuse cases couldn't be attributed to the Vatican.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies