A man allegedly targeted by a paedophile priest is to sue the Pope, it has emerged.
Lawyers for Co Armagh man Barry McCourt confirmed he is taking High Court action amid claims the Catholic Church covered up abuse perpetrated by the late Fr Malachy Finnegan.
The test case was described as an attempt to gain justice for other victims.
Finnegan taught and worked at St Colman's College, Newry, from 1967 to 1987, spending the last decade as the school's president. He later served as a parish priest in Clonduff, Co Down.
The priest, who died in 2002, was accused of a long campaign of child sexual abuse, but was never prosecuted or questioned by police about claims made against him.
In 2018 it emerged that the Diocese of Dromore had settled a claim made by one of his alleged victims. At the time the PSNI set up a team of detectives to investigate Finnegan's activities.
Now aged in his early 60s, Mr McCourt is taking legal action against the Pope, the Archdiocese of Armagh and the Holy See.
His solicitor described the case as "unprecedented".
Kevin Winters of KRW Law said yesterday: "The outworkings of both the PSNI and Police Ombudsman investigations has resulted in a huge loss of confidence that anything will ever be done to expose just how much the Church knew about Finnegan's activities.
"We have written to police today asking them to look at new evidence to support the gnawing allegation of a systemic cover up at the highest level."