Comment: In the recently re-aired FTR #508 , we examined the ascension of Pope Benedict, whose election came at a time when unfolding Vatican scandals threatened to unravel, revealing that institution’s darker side for the blood-soaked horror show that it truly is. Available evidence suggests that Ratzinger/Benedict is a product of the Vatican/fascist axis so exhaustively detailed in AFA #‘s 17–21 .
We now see that the Vatican has hired a legal adviser who had previously defended it against Holocaust-era lawsuits. (The heroic John Loftus, interviewed most recently in FTR #‘s 704 and 706 was involved with those suits. They are touched on in both interviews.)
The Vatican has long let cardinals or its official spokesmen do its talking when scandal hits.
But as the Vatican reels from a swirling clerical sex abuse crisis, the Holy See has turned to an unusual advocate: a tennis-loving, Saab-driving solo practitioner from Berkeley, Calif., whose obscure interest in sovereign immunity law and fluency in Italian landed him the job of the pope’s U.S. lawyer.
Jeffrey Lena’s studied yet creative approach to defending the Vatican in U.S. abuse lawsuits has influenced the Vatican’s new public message as he is increasingly called on to act as Rome’s unofficial U.S. spokesman and strategist. . . .
. . . Still, the 51-year-old former history professor avoids the limelight. He declined to be photographed for this profile, citing security and privacy concerns for his wife and son. He says he has received threats because of his advocacy for the Holy See and has moved his three-person law office to an undisclosed location in Berkeley.
The threats stem from the controversial nature of the cases brought against the Vatican in the U.S. over the past 10 years: before the clerical abuse lawsuits targeting the Holy See, Lena defended cases in which the Vatican bank was accused of stashing Nazi loot.
Lena recalls that when looking for co-counsel to represent the Vatican bank, several large firms declined because they didn’t want to defend a Holocaust claims suit. . . .
. . . Lena was teaching contracts at the University of Turin in 2000 when he was asked to submit his advice on a clamorous lawsuit that had just been filed near his hometown in San Francisco.
Holocaust survivors from Croatia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia had filed suit against the Vatican bank, alleging that it accepted millions of dollars of their valuables stolen by Nazi sympathizers.
Just who asked Lena to take on the case? All roads point to Franzo Grande Stevens, one of Italy’s best-known and respected attorneys, dubbed “l’avvocato del’Avvocato” — the attorney of the late Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli.
Grande Stevens was also the lawyer for the Vatican bank, formally known as the Institute of Religious Works, and the lawyer for the Vatican City state.
Grande Stevens didn’t respond to e‑mail requests for comment and Lena declined to say if Stevens made the request.
But in a letter to La Stampa newspaper last week, Grande Stevens channeled virtually all of Lena’s key defense strategies in the U.S. sex abuse cases to complain about a profile the paper had run on Lena’s main U.S. adversary, Jeff Anderson.
The Holocaust claims suit against the Vatican bank was dismissed in December after an appeals court upheld the bank’s immunity under the foreign sovereign immunities act, one of at least 12 published federal decisions Lena has won in the area of sovereign immunity. . . .