By Kathleen Gilbert
ST. PAUL, Minnesota, April 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The U.S. attorney who sent documents to the New York Times that the paper used in an article published last month that attempted to link the sex abuse scandal to Pope Benedict, and that set off a global controversy, has been pursuing an obsession with taking down the Catholic Church, and even wants to question the pope in court, reports the Washington Post.
A Post article Monday detailed the career of Jeff Anderson, a 62-year-old attorney based in St. Paul, who already boasts tens of millions of dollars won from sex abuse cases he's pursued against church officials across America. Anderson, as described by the Post's Peter Slevin, "is using his manic energy to challenge" the Church - and says he rarely snatches more than four hours of sleep as he pursues case after case.
“A father at 19, an alcoholic until nearly 50, he got his start in the law by representing indigent clients. He is now a fitness fanatic who lights his ornate office here with Tiffany reproductions and drives a Lexus,” writes Slevin.
Despite his string of successes, Anderson indicated in comments given to the Post that he won't be satisfied until he confronts the Vatican itself: he is already attempting to sue the sovereign state in federal court.
"We're chasing them. We're taking bites out of their ass," said the lawyer. "All the roads lead to Rome. What we're doing is getting us closer every single day."
Anderson reacted with pleasure to the news that Vatican officials had dismissed the New York Times article, which has been widely decried as inaccurate and slanderous, as "gossip." "When you're a fugitive from the truth, which I think they are, what you do is run or attack," Anderson opined, concluding that "they are clueless and that we're getting to them."
William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal pointed out in a column earlier this month that, "when it comes to suing the church, [Anderson] is America's leading plaintiffs attorney" - a key fact that New York Times writer Laurie Goodstein failed to mention concerning the primary source for her controversial article.
Anderson provided to the New York Times newly-unearthed documents regarding the case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy, who is said to have molested numerous boys at a school for the deaf between the 1950s and 1970s. The Times ran a front-page article claiming that Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), failed to defrock Fr. Murphy when presented with evidence of the abuse. However, the Vatican shot back that when the CDF was finally informed of the case, the accusations against Murphy were decades old, he had already been removed from ministry, and he was dying. Additionally, there is no evidence that Ratzinger ever personally intervened in the case. Numerous critics, including the judicial vicar for Fr. Murphy's case, blasted the coverage as "sloppy and inaccurate" and affirmed that Pope Benedict XVI has in fact, “done more than any other pope or bishop in history" to rid the church of clerical sex abuse.
Anderson now says he's in "hot pursuit" of the Catholic Church, and is pursuing several lawsuits of the sort that have amassed Anderson a considerable fortune. In 2002, he estimated that his earnings totaled $60 million; some of that went towards a private jet, which he called "morally ambiguous" and "so Republican," though a timesaver.
Not only does Anderson have no moral qualms with hunting down the church, but he calls his crusade "the pursuit of virtue." He hopes he is closer, in the words of the Post, to "forcing Pope Benedict XVI to agree that Roman prelates were slow to address abuses and must now work to prevent a repeat."
"As the pope, he's the guy," Anderson says of the pope, whom he wants to question under oath. "He's just a man who is occupying an office. He's responsible for his own actions."
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Accusations that Pope Complicit in Abuse Cover-Up Fall Flat
NYTimes vs. Pope Benedict: Paper Seeks to Implicate Pope in Abuse Cases
Judge of Abusive Priest Corrects 'Sloppy and Inaccurate' New York Times Smears against Pope