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. jjb1313

    wow, where to start with this trash you posted. so by your logic every tax paying American should be held accountable for those on welfare who commit a crime, we are in fact supporting the govt by paying taxes... this is an individual issue with some burdern being held by thos who supervise dioceses once they knew there was a problem. just because one moronic person commits a crime you can not hold all those associated with them responsible, for if that were the case you would be in jail assuredly...

    September 13, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      Wow that's some genius logic. I wish I couldda thot of thit.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • SuperBaked

      So priests have been diddling boys for years. I mean come on, the pedophile priest is a known stereotype. You mean to tell me that no one in charge knew about it? You know, most christian are so stupid and blind to facts that I would almost believe that.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • BG

      The accusation is that the papacy covered up these allegations by purposefully moving around accused priests to other areas. THAT is a crime. There is something called guilty by ASSOCIATION

      September 13, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      Wasn't the Catholic Church started by Saul the Anti-Christ? I'm just sayin.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • May

      Yes, and our President of the United States and all high ranking officials should be held accountable for all the child molestation by teachers, faculty, policemen, doctors, military (especailly the military, Fort Hood shootings come immediately to mind as he is commander and chief) you name it, all public servants who commit any and all crimes, as he is the head of all.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • SCAtheist

      Okay you just topped the other guy for the dumbest comment on th thread

      September 13, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • HA25

      May – do you read? The charge is the Vatican "tolerate and enable" criminal activity. No one in the US Gov't has done this unless you are a 911 conspiracy nutcase. Those crimes you refer to were prosecuted – therefore not tolerated, not enabled, and certainly not covered-up. That's more than a mere distinction – it's the heart of being an accomplice vs. being a responsible law-abiding person.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. jose

    Why don't these Vatican people decide that it is about time to let the priests get married?!!
    They pretend to be closer to God,but they're criminals.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • sortakinda

      The most serious offenders should not be priest at all. Marriage is not a solution.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • sortakinda

      And EVERY offender is a SERIOUS OFFENDER.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • TDJ

      Because one thing has nothing to do with the other, José. Simple.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Since studies show that public school teachers abuse kids at the same rate as priests, but since their number are much greater there are thousands more abusers in public schools than in the Catholic church and teachers are already allowed to get married, what do you think we should do about the thousands of pedophile teachers? You seem rife with good ideas, so this should be simple..

      September 13, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Aony

      Let's say you are a single and you have a job that demands you to stay single;else you would be fired. Would you become pedo just because you can't get married? That's ridiculous. Those priests were pedo from day one and they joined this group to take advantage of children. If you disagree with what I said, back up your claim with scientific findings that says anyone would turn into pedo if they can't get married.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • HA25

      How about we PROSECUTE them, Sean? I'm not aware of any conspiracy to pimp around accused Pedophile teachers to other unsuspecting schools. In fact, I believe the school administration, as a rule, has clear policies and does enforce the law. Also, I think they hold open meetings between senior leadership and the community. Oh, and finally – they update policies, enforce CORI laws, and require teachers not be alone with students.
      I'd like to see any ONE of those from the church.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. Doug

    I like how they say "juristictional issues" as if this dumb religious stuff makes one iota of difference. He's the leader of a state. If you can charge one leader of a state then you can charge another one. It makes no difference how many brainwashed followers he has and in what capacity they make excuses for him.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. one day at a time

    We are all cristian in one way or another the bottom line we need to make them pay if they are quilty not move them around we love our kids and family

    September 13, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. ME

    This won't go anywhere, but I wish it would. There are thousands of people who have been abused by the catholic church, and they always escape accountablility. I wish someone would tear down that corrupt organization.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • truthortrouble

      The bible reassures us of thier distruction, Revelation chapter 17 speaks of the "Great Harlot" and her shameless deception and lies. For thousands of years the have hidden behind God, as if he approves, but in depth study of the bible reveals the truth, just look at the fruitage of the spirit they produce

      September 13, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • mike from iowa

      Oh, it's okay, the bible reassures us. Be reassured everyone, it's in the bible. Okay, it's been 2,000 years, I think God and Jesus gave up on you loonies along time ago. If you had a mansion, would you let your kind come and live in it for all eternity? I wouldn't let any Christian live in my house, that would be he-ll.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. sortakinda

    Would anyone in their right mind think that the Church was trying to perpetuate problems? In the post-Freudian era of psychology, we have been sold a bill of goods that serious psychological disorders could be cured. Most of the offenders had been given "counseling" and were okayed by psychologists and psychiatrists to continue ministry-and they weren't to our everlasting sorrow.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Willie12345

    Let the evidence speak for itself.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. mike

    All religion divides. Religious people are hypocritical socio-paths who enable their own atrocitious behaviors by believing a God is going to "wash away their sins". The only sane people on the planet are atheists. Atheists aren't practicing witchcraft, or having wild s-ex parties or the like, they are the compassionate ones who work to make life better for the generations to come. It's the religious people who destroy the planet and kill it's peoples, because they believe it is a throw-away resource that won't be needed when they are flying around in heaven.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • JPensa

      I agree with everything you just said except I think calling all religious folks hypocritical socio-paths is a bit too strong. Not all exhibit atrocious behavior. But sadly, believing in fairy-tales as they do, religious people do tend to alter their faith and perspective when it comes to self preservation.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. DemFL

    Lock them all up, they are no better than any other pedophile out there. They are ruining your kids’ lives and hide under the guise of religion. I totally agree, they have hidden behind the cloaks long enough and should be charged with crimes against humanity. Screw this "Oh, it's a mental illness" garbage. I was abused by my Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America back in the 70's and never pursued any action, the Boy Scouts was ran by the church....so I was double whammy by them.

    September 13, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. May

    In the meantime, in America the crime of pedophilia will no longer be considered a mental illness. We are moving forward?

    September 13, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • HA25

      What are you referring to? I can't decide if you're an apologist for Priests, or for Pedophiles.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. JJ

    So we can use the ICC to go after a pope who wasn't the pope while these crimes were committed...but we won't go after the Jewish community for slaughtering innocent Palestinians in Gaza and stealing their homes...that's fair??

    September 13, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • HA25

      He was #2 – Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith or whatever. And since the prior #1 guy is dead, seems that going after him and cardinals is consistent. He doesn't get a pass just 'cause he was promoted.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. mike

    Don't be scared to renounce religion. Don't be scared to take back the planet from the grip of God-fearing lunatics. The religious people are ruining life for everyone, including themselves and those that they murder and those whose freedoms they take away. BAN ALL RELIGION.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. Randall

    The previous pope, Pope John Paul II. now "blessed", praised and was big protector and friend of the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, the pedophile founder of Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement. The present pope knew well the accusations but also protected Maciel. The corruption is monumental.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. Je$u$ Save$

    AMEN TO THAT!!!!! Take it to the Pope!!!!! If the priests won't be punished, the Pope can do the time. And let's get the "Black Pope" in court while we're at it. The Superior General probably makes the Pope commit crimes so he can be blackmailed, anyway. And while we're at it, disband the Vatican Bank (you'd find enough money to bail-out the world!!!!!) and open the vaults. The Vatican is nothing but BS and it's about time somebody went after the top tier!

    September 13, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. Frank

    Why isn't there a revolt from inside the Catholic Church by the good people that are there, Catholics always say that there are a lot of good people inside the Church, well where are they? It is pretty clear that many in the high ranks all had a hand in covering up the abuses. This is coming from a born Catholic who is totally confused about Christianity.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • mike from iowa

      THIS JUST IN! Jesus filed suit today with the ICC to make Christians stop using his name. He doesn't want to have anything at all to do with the Christian Church and all the whacko crazy people who claim him as their leader!

      September 13, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8