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.


Post by:
Filed under: Church Abuse • Religion • Vatican
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Andreas Moser

    That won't work: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/the-case-of-the-pope-by-geoffrey-robertson-is-a-flawed-case/

    September 13, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. orangey

    That is a little bit much. He wasnt holding the office when much of this occured.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
    • levend

      true but even now they protect pedophile priests

      September 13, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
    • greg

      He was not pope at the time, but he was in charge organising of the cover up.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. John

    What this Church has done is criminal. And while on this planet, they should be held accountable like anyone else.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Water in the tub

    about time this pedo pimp accepted some responsibility for sheltering miscreants.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. LOW LYF


    September 13, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |

      whAT EVER.. it's people like you that drive mustangs that try and get a free hand out..

      September 13, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. MIKE


    September 13, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. whowouldjesusdo

    Popes have promoted abusive priests to the vatican to exploit diplomatic immunity and protect them from justice. Benedict is no different, and his record relocating pedophile priests speaks for itself. He's an accessory and accomplice

    September 13, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Louis

    Another reason not to go to church and worship this thing they call "GOD" they claim is so nice but allows perverts for yrs and yrs to molest kids causing them to commit suicide and live their lives all messed up.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • starrbright

      Be careful or God may hold you responsible for everything that goes wrong with the world as the people do with Him - and it is the people who are causing the problems. God is not the one who 'allows' these things to occur - man creates these problems, increases these problems and allows these problems to continue. As usual, man is pointing a finger at God for the things he makes wrong and expects Daddy God to undo. Maturity accepts responsibility for wrong doing and undoes their own messes and does not point fingers at another. As for the Catholic church and the Pope, they also need to do the 'manly' thing and step up to the plate, accept responsibility for these wrongs, correct them to the best of their ability, fire the priests and get them into counseling. Protect the church - and that is the members of the church from future abuse.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • clay

      "fire the priests and get them into counseling."

      no...fire the priests and put them in jail. Its where criminals belong. And take away the tax exempt status of the church for a while. Maybe then they will see the light.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • n01s3nk1ss3s

      your statement is ignorant we are still Christians so sir we do believe in one god just like you, that is too say that you are Christian at all

      September 13, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. rick

    Hang em high. Each and everyone of them.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. LOW LYF


    September 13, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |

      just cause you liked it doen't mean they did...

      September 13, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ozzy Black Sabbath

    Would you like to see the pope on the end of a rope? Do you think he's a fool?

    September 13, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. sen

    Then how about all the Jewish rabbis and all the all the other religions. Oh I forgot the Jews and other religions are so perfect .why is it always about Catholics

    September 13, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
    • RX

      because they are the pedophiles

      September 13, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Salad Spinner

      Because Catholics are more perverted and there are more of them.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      If you say something against the Jews, it will be considered anti-Semitism, which is unacceptable. However anti-Catholicism is acceptable.

      September 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. latrina T

    They should just pepole that are guitly of these criesm on the frontline of a war. HELLO THIRE HURTTING OUR KIDS!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. latrina T

    They should just pepole that are guitly of these crimes on the frontline of a war. HELLO THIRE HURTTING OUR KIDS!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Chooch

      Please learn to spell.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. ej

    When will Cardinal Law, the former cardinal of Boston who left the country under cover of night and now works in Rome, be ordered back by Mr. Ratzinger (Benedict) to Boston to answer the questions the prosecutor has for him? Right. Ratzinger helped "The Great" JPII protect the perverts. He is no better than the crook who drives the getaway car after a bank robbery. One who abets a crime also is a criminal. I hope this case moves forward, if only to bring further light and shame to this shameful group. There was a time when the Church lorded over the world. It's called the Dark Ages.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8