Lena told The Am Law Daily via email Monday that "it is still the case that I represent the Holy See in cases" filed in the U.S. He was unavailable for further comment about his status as the Vatican's outside counsel of choice. (Lena did release a statement to The Associated Press on Monday calling a U.S. suit filed against Benedict in 2010 accusing him of covering up instances of abuse when he was cardinal as being nothing more than a "ludicrous publicity stunt and misuse of international judicial processes.")
Lena's role on behalf of the Holy See aside, there remains enough Church-related litigation in the U.S. to keep more than a few large firms busy in state and federal courts.
Last month a Philadelphia jury convicted both a priest and a former parochial school teacher of molesting the same middle school student in one of the city's first prosecutions of Church officials for sexually abusing parishioners, according to sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer. Michael J. McGovern, of counsel at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, represented the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, who was convicted of indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The case went to trial earlier this year.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which employed Engelhardt, is the target of civil cases accusing it of covering up incidents of sexual abuse. The Legal Intelligencer reported last year that the archdiocese's longtime outside counsel at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young has been accused of concealing certain Church documents.
Mark Chopko, chair of the nonprofit and religious organizations practice at Stradley in Washington, D.C., previously served as general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Chopko, who spoke with The Am Law Daily several years ago about his practice, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Some former Catholic priests accused of abuse have used the courts to fight back. Last year a monsignor filed a libel suit against the Archdiocese of New York in federal court in Manhattan after he was defrocked over sex abuse claims. Kelley Drye & Warren partner John Callagythe firm's immediate past chairand partner Nicholas Panarella are representing the archdiocese in the suit.