Three men who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a paedophile priest are suing Pope Francis, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne and the Catholic Church

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Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience at the Vatican surrounded by worshippers.

Three men who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a paedophile priest are suing Pope Francis, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne and the Catholic Church.

Key points:

  • The writ was lodged in the Victorian Supreme Court
  • Pope Francis, Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli and the entity representing the church are named in it
  • The men’s lawyer said the Pope had been named because he is the only one who can defrock a priest

It is the first known case in Australia where victims have claimed compensation from a pope for failing to take action to stop the clerical sexual abuse by a known abuser.

The three men from one extended family were allegedly abused — repeatedly and regularly — by serial paedophile Michael Glennon in the 1980s.

A writ has been lodged with the Victorian Supreme Court, claiming damages against Pope Francis, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli and one of his predecessors, Frank Little.

The entity representing the church is also named.

Glennon was sentenced a number of times for child sex offences and died in prison in 2014.

“There were requests made to defrock him but that didn’t occur until well after our clients’ alleged abuse occurred,” said Angela Sdrinis, the lawyer representing the men.

Women sitting stares toward camera, with files in background.

Ms Sdrinis said the requests to have Michael Glennon defrocked should have been acted on sooner.(ABC RN: Jeremy Story Carter)

She said the Pope had been included because only he can sack a priest.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t within the power of the Archbishop of Melbourne or indeed the Melbourne archdiocese to laicise the priest. That is a function of the Pope,” she said.

“That’s why we’ve been led to a position where we feel we almost have no choice but to join the Pope.

“We say that step should have been taken much earlier. It should have been taken after the first conviction, which was 1978.”

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