Published: Mar 05, 2013 11:25 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) - Attorneys who have tried unsuccessfully for years to sue the Vatican over failures to stop clergy sex abuse are looking into whether former Pope Benedict XVI is more legally vulnerable in retirement.
    
A U.S. lawyer for the Vatican argues that, like any former head of state, Benedict retains legal immunity regardless of whether he is in or out of office. But advocates for victims say that should be tested, since modern-day courts have never before dealt with an emeritus pope.
    
Benedict has said he will retreat to a life of prayer in a monastery behind Vatican walls, where he could be out of reach of national courts.
    
But the Center for Constitutional Rights is pressing the International Criminal Court to investigate whether the Vatican's response to abusive priests was a crime against humanity, for which there is no legal immunity.

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