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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Filed under: Church Abuse • Religion • Vatican
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. pistolpete

    This pope is more secretive than the former Bush admin.

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

      But not more secretive than your false Messiah Mr. Koolaid drinker.....PinocchiObama the least transparent, greatest spending criminal organization in history...

      September 13, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • GARY

      And the People said Amen!

      September 13, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
    • crawbar

      I am amazed at those libs! Having their jerk – Obumba – they still refer to Bush! Shamelessness is the hallmark of libs.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • S Kyle

      You people are all morons. The Catholic Church is greater than the current Pope in the same way the troubles in America are greater than Bush and Obama. The problems are systemic. Until you realize this and correct it, things will never be better.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      Obviously the problems are systemic, but that doesn't excuse this monster. Catholics will never clean up Catholics. It has to come from a secular authority.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • ConseresRuinedAmerica

      And Obama, who said when elected that it will take YEARS to undo the destruction of the Bush Administration, is the savior of America. OBAMA 2012!

      September 13, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • I'm an altar boy, Faddah...

      I agree with SCAtheist. Although a Catholic myself, you don't let the fox run the henhouse.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      "greatest spending criminal organization in history"

      Promoting you ideology is well and good but you realize, in your case, you sound like a sniveling imbecile don't you?

      September 13, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. laughingoutloud

    This is so exciting. I hope the International court takes on this case. Strip this church and render it powerless in order to stop its criminal acts.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Bin Laden

      Sorry! But it can't happen because the church is mightier than the court and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      And distributes the wealth to the real poor instead of the hypocrites.

      It wouldn’t hurt to pay some taxes too.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. LibsAlwaysLie

    And this is news WHY? CNN Communist News Network Mao loves ya.......Crimes against humanity must be a liberal lawsuit....This is what liberals and democrats do they sue everyone whine alot and make up what they cannot prove.
    Catholic church cleaned itself up, what about the DNC? They owned slaves why are not the great grandchildren of slaves suing them?

    September 13, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Salad Spinner

      The catholic church is nothing more than a pay toilet. always has been, always will be.

      September 13, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      How many little Republicans got abused I wonder.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • hank

      would you say this if it happen to your kids

      September 13, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      Thanks for noting for the record that you defend organizations that conspire to protect child molesters.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy Larson

      You're most likely on the right track.With 2.6 billion in payouts to abuse victims in the U.S. alone how can they not be seen as generous givers and nothing more?

      September 13, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      >>>how can they not be seen as generous givers and nothing more?<<<

      They were FORCED to do so.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      >>what about the DNC? They owned slaves why are not the great grandchildren of slaves suing them?<<

      Uh, U.S. history 101: Democrats back then were anti federalist conservatives and Republicans the opposite. The roles reversed since then. Did you miss that day at school? So by you comment, conservatives owned the slaves. Also, child molestation victims are not descendants. They are direct living victims. Boy, you are REALLY bad at analyzing issues.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Clerlgy Victim

      :The church cleaned itself up" - surely you cannot be talking about the Roman Catholic Church! The hierarchy is still messing around with information, refusing to talk, fighting court cases left and right and when the have lost every chance of stopping a court case from going to trial they suddenly come up with these magnanimous "settlements" - these settlements are more of a BRIBE to pay off the victims so they (the hierarchy) don't have to sit in a court rom, place their hand of a bible, AND SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH. They can't do it! They cannot tell the truth.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dave

    Its not only religious people who do these crimes, it is done by many different types but I do agree that if the Catholic church is hiding those who do these terrible things then they should be charged as such. It must start at the top but must also come down to the very bottom also.

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

      "but must also come down to the very bottom also."

      Ooh. Poor choice of words.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. dee

    In my opinion what these pope's allow to do for years is a crime and they should be held accountable along with all the priests that commited these crimes, yhey should all be ashame of themselves.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • n01s3nk1ss3s

      it is not only the catholic church that does wrong things to others, other Christian religions do wrong things as well, and as a catholic I find this article absurd and distasteful.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      I find making excuses for this monster absurd and more than distatseful.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
    • hank

      True n01s3nk1ss3s, however no other religion holds the status of the catholic church. How can a religion hold so high standard for the followers but not for itself.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ashlyn

    It's about time. If a school superintendent knew about teachers or principals abusing students and simply transferred them around the country, they would all be hanging by their toes. The Catholic Church is no different. What is truly appalling is the number of parents who continue to subject their children to an organization whose first concern lies with the pedophile priests and not their victims.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • GARY

      The catholic church (please note not capitolized for a reason) has harbored and continues to harbor priests and nuns (which abused children for years) at the expense of their "faithful". They put these priests up in "rest homes" complete with all the amenities the average human being could only hope for. I agree with most of these posts had this been a teacher and the school board had moved him/her they would be hung out to dry. Yes every aspect of society has these predators BUT they do not harbor,pay off victims and deny their exsistence. THEY PUT THEM UP FOR PROSECUTION.
      Beware the Judas Goat...

      September 13, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      Don't worry, they're about to come out with some new instructions on how lay people should treat children.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rose the Protestant

    Good... I hope they are able to expose the corruption, so that there will be left no doubt what the Catholic religion really is.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • n01s3nk1ss3s

      well as your screen name says you are protestant so of course you are biased towards the Catholic church. And get your history straight yes, there was once corruption within the church but NOT now. I am tired of different Christian denominations singling out the Catholic church we are still Christians as well and do many charitable things. So you cannot hold every Catholic priest accountable for others actions

      September 13, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      Protestants don't have the same kind of church hiearchy to protect their ministers, but they are equally hypocritical.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • gerald

      Rose the P, you might want to check out reformation dot com before your go pointing fingers too gleefully. Or do a search for stop baptist peds or search the name phil jenkins. There are a few skeletons in your churches closets.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary

    I agree that there are bad priests in the church and they should be held accountable for their actions. But, there are also many more good priests that work very hard for their communities and people. The media has front page news every time something like this comes out. I think many people are now just hopping on the band wagon and accusing priests that have done nothing wrong. Don't be so quick to judge.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Ashlyn

      The problem is that the pedophile priests are allowed to flourish. Some of their superiors and colleagues are aware that children are being abused and do nothing to help the innocent. If you know that your neighbor is molesting children and you do nothing to help those children, you can't say, "Well at least I do charitable work, I'm sort of a good person..." The issue of child molestation is cut and dried, no wiggle room whatsoever. If you know that a child is being abused you should (1) alert the parents, (2) alert the authorities. Period. If the 99.9% of priests who do great works and do not abuse children would like their reputations to stop being tarnished, they should protect children and shun their colleagues who do not. Including the Vatican.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      How many of the "bad" priests ever get punished, and how many actions of the "bad" priests get covered up?

      September 13, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. SCAtheist

    He is definitely a criminal, complicit in thousands of atrocities. Death penalty for this guy.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Name one. Idiot.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      He covered everything up and denied the evidence. Google the junk he wrote before he became pope.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Frenchy

    The solution is quite simple the Vatican rounds up all clerics accused or judged and throws them out of the RCC now ! It is certainly better to have fewer priests then to drag around a bunch of misfits hidding behind the collar.We pulled out of this church a few years ago and joined a smaller catholic church the NAORCC the clergy are married and have jobs as not to tax the members with support issues.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Grumpster

    WOW...that is a SCARY picture. If I were a little kid, that look would scare the crap out of me!!! This guy looks more like Satan than a pontiff. It's time we take away the soverein nation status of this loony bin of a tax evading place.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Grumpster

      Oh, great...now CNN takes away the scary picture and puts up this one. I liked the other one better. It represented the church a lot better.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. mattshanknet

    Does this mean we can start using the Vatican as a facility for laser tag?

    September 13, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • kim

      wys!!!!!!!! lol

      September 13, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jim Bob

    The pope and the Catholic church should be proscuted and sued not just for the abuse of children but for sucking people into their stupid ancient mythology to control them. Religion is the worst form of mind control. When will people wake up and stop blindly accepting ignorant old myths?

    September 13, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Grumpster

      Agree...not much different from a cult, except for size and the inability to get millions to drink their kool aid.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. Feast of Beast

    The Pope is guilty of crimes against humanity: by prohibiting birth control methods for Catholics. In this age of disease, war, famine and poverty, that is absolute insanity. I guess he thinks God wil take care of all the little starving or neglected children. It's not happening, Benny.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Patrick

    "Pope" is capitalized, CNN, when discussing the sitting Pope or a past pope.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Grumpster

      Doesn't deserve it.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
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