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California court moves towards court setting in $31 million lawsuit against Latin Patriarchate

الراعي الذهبي

By Daoud Kuttab

A California court has sent clear signals that it plans to move ahead with setting a trial date for the case of Seryani vs. Holy See

Maghtas.com has learned that all lawyers involved have received clear signals the judge plans to move ahead on “trial setting”. This is the clearest reference yet to the direction that the California judge Donald Alveraz appears to be moving in the direction of accepting California jurisdiction in the case.

A hearing was expected on January 7th but the judge seemed unhappy with the discovery process. Sources say that the reason for the judge’s discomfort was the fact that the defendants have not complied with court-ordered discovery and therefore he has set a March for deciding on motions and court setting. The long delay and the hint of a trial appear to signal to both parties for the need to reach a settlement, experts following the case believe.

US Legal experts following the California case predict that the direction being signaled by the court of granting jurisdiction to a case against the Holy See could open Pandora’s box of litigation against the Vatican in the US. Judge Alveraz appears to have sent this message as a way to encourage the Church to settle the case outside the court, they argue.

الراعي البرونزي

The case in reference is an 87 page $31 million lawsuit by Seryani requesting unpaid contracts by the Latin Patriarch-owned American University of Madaba. The case was filed in California’s San Bernardino Superior court on August 23td 2019. Lawyers for the defense include in addition to the Vatican, the Jerusalem Patriarchate, and the Jordanian-based University, a host of cardinals present and past patriarch’s archbishops and bishops of the Catholic church.

In pretrial hearings in the spring and summer of 2020, American officials of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher confirmed that the US tax-exempt organization has sent millions of dollars from American donors, including from California, to the church in Jerusalem for use in supporting the American University in Madaba, Jordan. In US legal culture failure to comply with a judge’s discovery order normally triggers an automatic approval of jurisdiction.

The former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, who comes from the Jordanian town of Madaba and, who was involved in the initial setup of the University, gave a long deposition last October 16 th as part of the mandated discovery procedure, in which he confirmed much of what the American-based Knights had testified.

But the University and the Jerusalem Latin Patriarchate failed to comply with the discovery order including the release of ten years of financial documents of the University and to produce a knowledgeable person about the finances of the university. The person presented for the deposition was a new finance staff person with little knowledge of the university’s past financial activities.

Italian newspapers reported on the testimony of Twal on October 21st, 2021, and appeared to defend the current Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa while blaming the former Patriarch Fouad Twal for the reason things went bad in the finances of the university. (see report on Italian papers coverage here-

الراعي البرونزي

تكافح مجلة “ملح الأرض” من أجل الاستمرار في نشر تقارير تعرض أحوال المسيحيين العرب في الأردن وفلسطين ومناطق الجليل، ونحرص على تقديم مواضيع تزوّد قراءنا بمعلومات مفيدة لهم ، بالاعتماد على مصادر موثوقة، كما تركّز معظم اهتمامها على البحث عن التحديات التي تواجه المكون المسيحي في بلادنا، لنبقى كما نحن دائماً صوت مسيحي وطني حر يحترم رجال الدين وكنائسنا ولكن يرفض احتكار الحقيقة ويبحث عنها تماشيًا مع قول السيد المسيح و تعرفون الحق والحق يحرركم
من مبادئنا حرية التعبير للعلمانيين بصورة تكميلية لرأي الإكليروس الذي نحترمه. كما نؤيد بدون خجل الدعوة الكتابية للمساواة في أمور هامة مثل الإرث للمسيحيين وأهمية التوعية وتقديم النصح للمقبلين على الزواج وندعم العمل الاجتماعي ونشطاء المجتمع المدني المسيحيين و نحاول أن نسلط الضوء على قصص النجاح غير ناسيين من هم بحاجة للمساعدة الإنسانية والصحية والنفسية وغيرها.
والسبيل الوحيد للخروج من هذا الوضع هو بالتواصل والنقاش الحر، حول هويّاتنا وحول التغييرات التي نريدها في مجتمعاتنا، من أجل أن نفهم بشكل أفضل القوى التي تؤثّر في مجتمعاتنا،.
تستمر ملح الأرض في تشكيل مساحة افتراضية تُطرح فيها الأفكار بحرّية لتشكل ملاذاً مؤقتاً لنا بينما تبقى المساحات الحقيقية في ساحاتنا وشوارعنا بعيدة المنال.
كل مساهماتكم تُدفع لكتّابنا، وهم شباب وشابات يتحدّون المخاطر ليرووا قصصنا.

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