By NICOLE WINFIELD
ROME (AP) — A European court has ruled that the Vatican can’t be sued in a local court for sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests. The European Court of Human Rights affirmed that it enjoys sovereign immunity and that the misconduct of priests and their superiors cannot be attributed to the Holy See. The court dismissed a case brought by 24 people who said they were victims of abusive priests in Belgium. The 24 had argued the Holy See was liable due to the “structurally deficient” way the Catholic hierarchy had for decades covered up cases of priests who raped and molested children. They appealed to the Strasbourg-based court after Belgian courts ruled they had no jurisdiction given the Holy See’s immunity as a sovereign state.