LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Archdiocese of Louisville has filed court documents to intervene in a lawsuit brought by parishioners against a longtime Catholic priest.
A civil lawsuit alleges Father Anthony Ngo is wrongfully using church money by converting some funds donated to the parish for his own personal use.
Ngo has been pastor at St. John Vianney's in south Louisville for two decades.
Those bringing the suit against Ngo said they were removed from their volunteer roles on the parish council after raising concerns about church finances.
According to the Archdiocese of Louisville, a parish council consults with and supports its pastor. The pastor decides when the council meets and takes action.
One motion filed by lawyers representing the Archdiocese was a motion to intervene because, according to the motion, "the donations in question would be the property of its parish."
They also filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming the court doesn't have jurisdiction in the case.
"Under the First Amendment and the establishment clause, there's the separation of church and state," said Ariana Levinson, a law professor at the University of Louisville. "So, if determining the matter is going to require looking into church doctrine or religious doctrine, those nonsecular decisions wouldn't be made by a secular court."
The motion to dismiss claims "Fr. Anthony's performance as a pastor is an issue for Archbishop Kurtz and not the Jefferson Circuit Court."
WHAS11 reached out to the Archdiocese for comment on their involvement. They said they can't comment on pending litigation.
WHAS11 also called the attorney representing the Archdiocese, but never got a callback.
Stuart Alexander, the lawyer representing the parishioners told WHAS 11 he expected the defense to file this motion to dismiss. He said it'll likely take months before a judge makes a decision.