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. bible student

    If my comments were directed towords Jazzzzzzz, an @Jazzzzzzzz would be there. She always thinks that I"m speaking to her exclusively when I am addressing everyone. So very annoying....so very thread-shredding.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bible student

    "Golden Girls" is jealousy, gossip, and fornication being made a joke. 3 old ladies dwelling together in 'normalcy'. The same kind of food Jesus is serving? hardly

    September 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jazzzzzzz

    Btw ,
    My values, morals and grow in Gods ways is very important to me as you know full well.
    My values and dignity are based on God and taking his path, not if I am "better" than anyone else, it is of very little value to look to others to see if one is exceptible as a women or man, wouldn't you agree?
    I hope you can SEE what I'm saying
    I have ZERO reason to feel that , this I know .

    September 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fernace

    I agree that abuse goes on in all religions & in many of their churches! The problem with the Catholic religion is that they require their clergy to take a vow of celibacy, which is not a normal human behavior! Therefore, for centuries, the church has had to battle the "human weaknesses" that caused the priests to have affairs & even children with members of the congregation! The offenders were imprisoned, hanged or burned! It then became an "unofficial sanction" for clergy to "relieve" their "frustrations" with the boys working/studying in the churches! As long as there were no more scandals with married women, the Church turned a blind eye! The Church needs to join the 21st century because there are no sanctions for pedophiles in this world, not when the public finds out about it! The scars of abused kids go so deep, many can never have normal relationships with people who love them! Is that the legacy the Church wants to leave our children!? If not they need to hand over the molesters with no conditions!!

    September 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • SameLaw4All

      The Roman Catholic Church will never hand over their known pedophiles because they operate in a tax free environment not beholding to cival laws. Take the case of Cardinal Law who in Boston hid his pedophiles by through relocation to other parishes to start anew. Cardinal Law now lives a comfortable life in Vatican City, away from U.S. justice and out of the public eye. Cardinal Law is a prime example of papal cover-up and corruption. I am an ex-Cathoholic, who embraces christianity in my own way.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jazzzzzzz

    True about "the Golden Girls"
    You got me there
    I also watch
    history channel
    Animal planet
    sports channel , tennis ect

    September 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      These comments like the one above just show how light these feeble-minded Tea Partiers think of child abuse! Then again, they try to make a joke out of everything since they can't post anything intelligent here themselves!!!

      September 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. George Patton

    Of course child abuse is a terrible thing and those who engage in it need to be brought to justice. In this case, most clergy, priests and nuns alike are very dedicated people and not child abusers themselves. This is a case where so few can make so many look very bad.

    September 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pedophiles stalk girls too

    These clergy who have been caught perfer to have long-term relationships with men and boys exclusively. They arent's simply pedophiles, though it be politically correct to call them such. They are gay men stalking boys. A straight man would stalk only girls. A bi-man would stalk both. No doubt about it. These clergy are gay. Some 40% of American clergy are openly gay, have your sentiments, and have their way with your boys.For every one caught, there are 50 that didn't get caught and are continuing on as you applaud them for the 'bravery' shown coming out of their closets.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. @Patton

    This is a case where the very many stubbornly cling to the criminally few. Gay catholic clergy stalkiing just boys is in fact an old problem. Let's all stop pretending that this is anything new. The only thing new is Americans tolerating gays en masse....even applauding them for coming out of their dank closets You would make a nice poster-boy for 'political correctness' though, George.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. WOT

    Judgment will began at the house of GOD: The time is near People! And the Pope is not GOD!

    September 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Churches days are numbered

    Just as soon as it becomes more affordable to use private armies, governments will no longer need the sevices rendered by churches: recruiting young people who are members of the church to fight for god, no matter the country. That's how we have members of the same religion killing each other come wartime.Corporate armies will spell the end of organized religions, other than if that religion be protected by God himself.

    September 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ churches days are numbered...
    Just a thought tho, how about the fact that the economy has seemed to be playing a bigger role in the youth enrolling in the military, no matter the branch you choose of course.
    Won't you think, the Governments and economic hit men have also had an effect on the young being forced into the arms of the military?

    September 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ George...
    For the last time, I'M NOT A TEA PARTIER!!!!!!
    Would ya please lay off, already

    September 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. brealnow

    The law of nature (That God cretaed)...we reap what we sow.
    The negative consequances that are happening to the catholic religion managers, show that God has one and only one command that is being deliberately ignored: love one another.
    Obviuosly a pedophile does not truly love others, so that also points to another conclusion:
    a pedophile, that calls themself a "Christian" is either lying, or is following a false god, or is truly psychotic.
    the God of Jesus points and leads us away from such criminal choice
    remeber: "we are good not because we are trying to get to heaven, but because we are already going to heaven".
    I beleive some catholics belive in something like hinduism, that beleives that as long as you have more good behavior than bad, then you "get in"...this is absoutley false.
    All true Christians will voluntarilly flee from the decsisions of crime and immorality.
    If you are committing sins, you must evaluate your relationship wih God...you have the free choice, God already is there – waiting for you

    September 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ brealnow...
    The most important point you mad was...
    " If you are committing sins, you must evaluate your relationship with God!
    Well said there.

    September 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Djibouti1

    It’s not what the Cardinal (now Pope) knew but when he knew it! If he was moving troubled individuals around the world instead of solving problems then the ICC has a case. Imagine what they could do to a Rumsfeld or Tenant; that would be a slam dunk at the ICC.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
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