(RNS) Three Kentucky men have dropped their six-year effort to sue the Vatican over sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, citing insurmountable legal and practical obstacles.

The men, who say they were abused by priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville decades ago, filed a motion Monday (Aug. 9) requesting that a federal judge dismiss their claims.

The suit was one of several seeking to hold the Vatican responsible for sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, alleging that church officials and policies allowed the abuse to continue. Similar cases in Oregon and Wisconsin are ongoing.

All three cases carry important implications for U.S. church-state law and for the Catholic Church, which has been beset by nearly a decade of steady sex abuse allegations and lawsuits.

The Kentucky case was effectively ended by a previous court ruling that gave the Vatican qualified immunity as a sovereign nation, and the inability of the plaintiffs to gather more sex abuse victims who had not already settled with local dioceses for a class-action suit, attorney William McMurry told The Associated Press. In addition, two of the archbishops accused of misconduct have died.

McMurry had sought to prove that the Louisville archbishops were Vatican employees, a point disputed by Catholic leaders, who say bishops have the power to run their own dioceses.

Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena said in a statement, This development confirms that, contrary to what the plaintiffs’ lawyers repeatedly told the media, there has never been a Holy See policy requiring concealment of child sexual abuse.

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