Abuse victims accuse pope, Vatican officials of crimes against humanity
Pope Benedict XVI appears at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in Plebiscito square in Ancona, Italy, on Sunday.
September 13th, 2011
07:27 AM ET

Abuse victims accuse pope, Vatican officials of crimes against humanity

[Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET] Victims of abuse by Catholic priests asked the International Criminal Court to charge Pope Benedict XVI and other top Vatican officials with crimes against humanity, a victims' group announced Tuesday.

The pope and other church leaders "tolerate and enable the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and child sex crimes throughout the world," said the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the Center for Constitutional Rights in a joint statement.

They filed more than 20,000 pages of documents with the international court in the Netherlands to support their charges, they said.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CNN he was aware of the filing but had no comment.

The International Criminal Court did not immediately respond to a CNN question about whether it believed it had jurisdiction to prosecute the pope.

But Barbara Dorris, the president of SNAP, said it was the natural venue for the case.

"We are convinced this is the proper jurisdiction," she told CNN. "Who else can investigate violent crimes of a global magnitude? The ICC was created to deal with widespread systematic violent crimes against humanity."

The executive director of the International Bar Association, on the other hand, said it was unlikely the international court would find there was evidence of crimes against humanity.

"This requires a government policy, a plan, a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population," Mark Ellis said.

"Not to suggest that victims were not harmed, but to meet the level of crimes against humanity you really have to show that there is a policy or a plan to initiate this," he said.

People can be held responsible for crimes if they knew - or should have known - they were occurring, Ellis said.

But the blind eye victims accuse the Catholic Church of turning to abuse of children by priests does not rise to the level of crimes against humanity, he suggested.

"They are crimes and they are serious, but within the jurisdiction of the ICC you have to be very specific. I don't see that you would be able to tick the boxes necessary" to bring a prosecution, he predicted.

That the defendant is the pope - along with three senior cardinals - also raises "jurisdictional hurdles," he said.

But simply filing the request will force the prosecutor to look at the case, Ellis said.

It "might be beneficial to the plaintiffs to force the court to respond," he said, saying the filing was more than just a publicity stunt.

"It raises the profile of these issues," he said.

In addition to the pope, SNAP and the CCF want prosecutions of Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State; and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals.


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  1. a victim

    NY lawmakers protect the catholic church to preserve catholic votes. One bishop in western NY claimed how angry he was of those priests who abused children. Reality! He sodom-ized me at age 8, yes this very same bishop. In fact a New York senator held a dinner for this bishop and gave him a plaque thanking him for the wonderful work he had done. This senator knew this bishop is a pedo, yet told victims to get on with their lives.

    The senator also stopped a Bill that would expose over 1,000 pedophiles in NY state. His name? Senator Defrancisco. The law he stopped -> http://childrescuebill.org/Yoursupport/YourSupport.htm

    September 14, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. st okechukwu chukwu

    touch not my anointed and do them no harm

    September 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clerlgy Victim

      The Bible also says,
      "Suffer the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God."

      September 14, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • a victim

      You think the popes and bishops actually believe that stuff? They are con men, always have been. Look at their wealth. They could feed millions, end world hunger.. But they don't, money is too important.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ginger mcknight

    Could it be one reason Pope John Paul II's canonization is on an accelerated track? He was so angry that the US media were exposing the fact that priests were abusing children that he blamed the scandal on the media. In fact, Cardinal Law of Boston, who was one of the worst shifting abusing priests from one parish to another was honored by the Pope who named Law archpriest of Saint Mary Major in Rome, one of the greatest basilicas. He stood by his man who he considered had been unjustly treated by the media just because he was guilty of the obfuscation of the crimes by priests who were than protected by the cardinal by silently placing them in unsuspecting parishes where they continued to commit their crimes.
    What happened to the devil"s advocate when Pope John Paul's canonization trial was going on? Or was there even a devil's advocate?
    Isn't it a fact that the coverup is usually worse than the crime? Is it a fact that there is a coverup taking place in the Vatican under Pope Benedict who was John Paul't right hand man and deeply involved in the MO of the

    September 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Enrique

    what about the crimes of this church in spain .. inquisitions and cruzades??

    September 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • a victim

      Money laundering.. They never get prosecuted

      September 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
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