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September 13th, 2011
07:22 AM ET

Sex abuse victims ask International Criminal Court to prosecute pope

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - 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," the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the Center for Constitutional Rights said 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.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Sex abuse • Vatican

soundoff (1,157 Responses)
  1. SAFENHISGRACE

    @HIPPYPOEt......then why did he murder 6 million of his OWN PEOPLE - you moron???? he hated jews...he was catholic

    September 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • hippypoet

      nope, wrong again... he was not a catholic... he was raised by his uncle or greak uncle... maybe thats where the hatred comes from, but he was born an austrian jew... RESEARCH my moronic loser pal!

      oh and this is for you, as welll as any followers of false idols

      i don't think the nike wearing followers of christ like me talking about the UNHOLY father... well get over it... if the MAN wasn't such a piece of crap maybe i would be posting differently... but alas, he is not, he is nothing more then a perv with power... and more over there are people who believe that the pope is never wrong as his words come straight from the mouth of god, which is around his ****. enjoy

      September 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Judas

      Repent my brothers and sisters! Believe me!

      September 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Skep

      Hitler was born a Catholic and attended Mass faithfully for most of his youth. He was never kicked out by the Catholic Church.
      He even wrote letters to the Vatican. Nothing like a bunch of Catholic liars who want to distance themselves from Hitler, eh?

      September 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • gypsymoth21

      Hitler actually hated both judiasm and christianity.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Me

      Hint: The Jews are considered a race of people, religion was not an issue.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  2. SAFENHISGRACE

    He actually looks like he has the fear of the Lord in his eyes now....the word of God says "you are neither cold nor hot, but you are lukewarm and I will spit you out of my mouth. Reminds me of the priest in the movie ""Left Behind"" All the Holy, righteous believers were taken up to heaven in a split second, those that were left were behind were left to deal with what happened & why they weren't taken up. They showed a priest standing in the pulpit of his church was also left behind-he knew exactly what happened & as he was explaining to the husband, he knew then he was a phony!!! Kudos to SNAP!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Judas

      Repent my brothers and sisters!

      September 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Know What

      SAFENHISGRACE,

      You do know, don't you, that "Left Behind" is a sci-fi/horror/fantasy/fiction book and movie series, made by delusional evangelical airheads? I rarely defend the Catholic Church, and am not doing so here really; but I am defending realism.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  3. Dan G

    Prosecuting the Pope will solve zero. The Catholic church attracts pedophiles. That has to be solved. The criteria for all male celibate priesthood, is a fertile ground for a pedophile.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Skep

      Prosecuting the Pope will solve a very big world-wide problem you idiot. Can't stomach the truth that your Pope is a sleaze?

      September 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Elvis

      Where are my Obama Bucks! I need money!

      September 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Turning Texas Blue

      I agree with you, Dan. It would be more reactive than proactive. But, there is no denying – as was stated in the article – "it will raise the profile of these cases" Reorganizing the monolith that is the Catholic Church', while certainly daunting is a very intelligent place to focus.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  4. Archie Bunker

    All churches need to be abolished! They are nothing but a haven for criminals!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • hippypoet

      exespecially when they hide in them so we can't arrest them... thanks to some good folks at the justice dept. they have made it so that doesn't stop us any more 🙂

      yet we still can't blow any up when in war, thats a backwards order! much like the followers of fake and imaginary dude chillin in the sky with sweet a/c!

      September 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Turning Texas Blue

      Wow. All criminals, huh? Right. UNLIKE, Wall Street, and Capital Hill and... well, prisons. There are imperfect people in every organization. But, many of the people I attend church with are merely trying to balance some $h** out in this life, Dude.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  5. hippypoet

    i don't think the nike wearing followers of christ like me talking about the UNHOLY father... well get over it... if the MAN wasn't such a piece of crap maybe i would be posting differently... but alas, he is not, he is nothing more then a perv with power... and more over there are people who believe that the pope is never wrong as his words come straight from the mouth of god, which is around his ****. enjoy !

    September 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  6. kimsland

    PLEASE take the Pope to court PLEASE
    If anyone out there is involved in bringing the Pope to court, PLEASE do it.

    The world needs to know that religion is wrong

    September 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Chris

      What makes you justify that religion is wrong? It doesn't matter which religion you are talking about... but that's not a right thing to say. You can't justify that there's no God and there's no such thing as religion on the basis of a hand fully of stupid, depressed, probably bullied when they were kids who turned out to be athiests, and make it seem like the whole world who believes are wrong... Please grow up and post something smart, which will also be of help for others who are reading.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "You can't justify that there's no God and there's no such thing as religion on the basis of a hand fully of stupid, depressed, probably bullied when they were kids who turned out to be athiests...."

      Chris, you cant justify that there is a god either. There is no way to. Unless you somehow have FACTS that PROVE god exists, I will adhere to my ideology that man will never KNOW if there is or isnt a god. Stop trying to act like you know cuz you dont. To say you do is a fallacy....speculation at best.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  7. Dr. Mumbai

    ___ The Pope is a Pedophile Pimp !! ___

    September 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  8. Rich

    Not defending anyone here by any means, but just asking an honest question: Have any recent abuses occurred? I see complaints the Pope hasn't stopped abuses, but all the coverage I can recall for a while now has been abuses decades ago.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Skep

      Yes, there have been recent abuses.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Somewhere right now a child is being scared for life.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • David, CA

      Rich- while the Vatican was claiming they were cleaning up their act and "reforming" after the scandals broke in the USA- they were up to their usual tricks in Ireland where the abuses were much much worse and included torture as well as s3xual abuse of children. This was as early as the late 1990's. I have a question though- how old do these crimes need to be before the followers of the Pope until they're not considered horrifying? A decade? Two decades? I'm sure the victims can recall them as if they were yesterday.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Rich

      I have nothing good to say about the Pope, Catholic Church, or religion, I assure you. I'm agnostic, personally. But, I see so much talk about what the Pope is or isn't doing now, but haven't seen anything about crimes happening now, hence my question. Even a couple of responses I got were statements of opinions (which may well be fact, I know), but I'm just wondering if anyone can cite abuses that have happened at least during the current Pope's time as Pope, since he's the figure central to the article?

      September 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Chaos

      all the coverage I can recall for a while now has been abuses decades ago.

      According to the Jay College of Criminal Justice research study The peak was the early eighties but there has been plenty since and now has tapered down to the societal average per capita range. Only because the church was forced to act.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Rich

      Thanks for the response, Chaos.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  9. Robin

    The Pope, Bishops, and all the Catholics need to get realistic and allow priest to marry.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So now you want Gay marriage?

      They bugger BOYS not women

      September 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Skep

      Like that's going to make any difference? All it would do is give a bunch of gay pedophiles a smokescreen to hide their desires and give them a character reference, which is not an alibi by any means. Just ask any Republican who is/was married and got caught doing illegal gay stuff with other men. Just being married doesn't mean your desires for little boys is going to change.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Observer

      William Demuth,

      They are PEDOPHILES. That doesn't mean they are gay.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Observer

      Spare the PC propoganda!

      They aren't buggering little girls, it seems the nuns do that.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Joe

      Actually most of them were gays. Most of them molested post pubescent boys. In this country we can not vilify gays, so we call them pedophiles so that we can vilify them : )

      September 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Joe

      So true. My belief is simple

      Bugger whatever and whomever is capable of consenting, but If I catch you near a kid, you get castrated.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  10. Peanut

    @Satans Half Brother – Please do not compare this travesty going on in the Catholic church to the Mormon church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Polygamy is practiced by offshoots of the LDS church. There is the "reformed" LDS church (an offshoot) and several others that practice polygamy. Please do NOT confuse others into thinking the "Mormons" practice polygamy. If one is found to be practicing polygamy in the LDS church, they are immediately EXCOMMUNICATED. Thank you.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • David, CA

      Peanut- no the mormons just practice bigotry and hatred of anyone not exactly like them. You know- white, straight, and s3xually repressed beyond sanity.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Skep

      There is pedophilia within the Mormon organization. Guaranteed. Don't be so naive. Or maybe you're in denial? Or just ignorant?

      September 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Judas

      Tell them, Half-Brother to repent. The End is Near!

      September 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  11. aubrie

    That will happen when hell freezes over!!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  12. AIZEN

    anyone who believe this dude is the representative of god on earth has serious mental issues and anyone who go to a church that abuse kids and women is just as bad as the church he goes to cus he/she is supporting them. this church as well as other churches have done too much damage to society and are useless relics of the past...to hell with them!! i wouldnt trust the pope to tell me god existed, he is a liar and covers perverted men who work under him....we are just tipping the top with western world, these men do worse in africa and under developed countries because they are untoucheable there....

    September 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  13. donna

    if the rampant pedophelia and crime covering up doesn't technically rise to the level of systematic crimes against humanity, then perhaps the church's policy on birth control does. it's all connected. all about contol and the damage men in powerful positions inflict upon those unfortunate enough to believe in them. ugh. lock em up and throw away the key! enough!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • SAFENHISGRACE

      I agree with you on the birth control issue...as with abortions...horrendous crimes against humanity!!! Did you know Hitler was a Catholic????

      September 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @SAFENHISGRACE

      hitler was not a catholic, he was an austrian jew you moron!

      September 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Skep

      Hitler was born a Catholic and died a Catholic. There is plenty of proof. He might not have been going to church and had drifted into being a paganistic sort, but the Catholic Church looks at it like "once a Catholic, always a Catholic."
      Hitler's army had plenty of Catholic priests and Lutheran pastors to "guide" the troops as they destroyed the Jews.
      Who was using who? The Catholic Church liked killing Jews in the old days. They did it quite often for centuries.
      Go check it out on the internet. The facts are everywhere.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Sorry hippypoet, his father was a skeptical Catholic, and his mother was Catholic. The history books say he didn't practice Catholicism after he became and adult.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Godwin's Law

      SAFE,

      It is a well-known rule that whoever mentions Hitler first in a debate on religion, loses.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • William Demuth

      SCAtheist

      I suggest you read his book "My Struggles"

      He was Christian, and Christianity was the CORNERSTONE of the Nazi party.

      Church PR from the 60's and 70's tried to distance them, but any real reading of the link between the Vatican and the Third Reich would turn your stomach.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  14. Robert St.John

    christianity is not bad....the people who
    use christianity for their own sadistic will....taking the faith of people and try to control their hearts and mind...then destroy the children along the way givin more rise to atheism...sad that the same people the sworn to save they destroy....and the ones who dont understand the word of God believe he is the one allowing it.......but, our government does the same... And u r so quick to say God bless America.......yes God bless America and God bless those innocent children.......we know these men did it in their name not yours!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • DUH

      "and the ones who dont understand the word of God believe he is the one allowing it."

      If your god is real then he knew it was going on for years and years but did nothing to stop it in it's tracks so more innocent children weren't hurt. The reality is your god does not exist which is why the priest were allowed to get away with it for so long. Your religion blinds you to the reality of this world and you'll believe anyone as long as they put god bless or amen behind it.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  15. SAFENHISGRACE

    Praise God...these men are not allowed to marry under the constraints of Catholic religion, so, they turn their lusts toward young children. The word of God says that what a man does in darkness WILL be brought to the light....its about time these men who use the cover of God & the Word to commit such hianeous crimes against CHILDREN yet, pay for their "bad decisions"!!!.
    Jesus says if anyone harms any of these little children, it would be better that a millstone was tied around their neck & tossed into the sea. The Pope & the Pharasies-(-those were the ones in the Bible who wanted everyone to SEE them praying on the street corners-looking so righteous,,,but having no Godliness–their resembled shoddy religious scam artists) ned to be tried just as any criminal would be if he were caught as a pedophile. They may plead to Jesus for forgiveness & mercy, but they still should be made to face the consequences of their actions!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Skep

      You don't understand human se.xuality. That much is clear.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  16. hippypoet

    @Peter

    to reply to what i said with "Wow alot of Liars and dcievers on here today." yet say nothing against my words... i think you agree, does that mean your going to hell, i mean as a believer?

    September 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  17. dave c

    bravo to SNAP–my opinion is the Vatican should be paying every settlement awarded to victims, they ordered the cover-up

    September 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  18. JPX

    I completely agree with the victims. Bearing a striking resemblance to the Emperor from the Star Wars movies, this creepy, little man, who wears a dress and a funny hat, has done nothing to address this issue except to pray to imaginary gods.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Peter

      I will pray for you, as God is not imaginary and I hope you realize that before its too late.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Peter

      Pray for yourself little man, your Gods dirty laundry is about to be dropped in your basket!

      September 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "I will pray for you, as God is not imaginary and I hope you realize that before its too late."

      What is your definition of God? The god I would be inclined to follow wouldnt approve of the rampant fear mongering tactics you christian love to use against non-christians. "believe or you'll be sorry" sounds like a 4 year old talking.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  19. hippypoet

    i didn't realize this retarded convo. was still going on.... lets simply put it in words even the simpliest could understand, the pope helpped the bad men do what they did by making it hard to stop them, also there is PROOF that the pope did the very same thing they ( the bad men) did. THE WORLD has laws that the pope and his followers are not above, only the catholic faith allows the pope to do what he feels like, and then claims that he is infact never wrong and ergo it was as if it was god doing it... does that make god a child touchin perv as well.... i think so!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Peter

      Wow alot of Liars and dcievers on here today.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Nem

      Can you show the 'PROOF'? Are you a witness? Or you just heard from someone or somewhere else?

      September 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @ nem, there are people who have come foward whom have been touched as well as people from WW2 while the pope was a nazi and killed there family members... don't argue for a man whom only has to speak for himself, yet hasn't... i wonder why!!!!!

      whose ready for another jesus follower dissappearing act?

      September 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • SAFENHISGRACE

      Oh please...you make no sense...your comments ae ridiculous...like God is a pervert..you need to grow up

      September 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Turning Texas Blue

      Quit posting-while-high...

      September 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • GERALD

      hippy,

      The pope was a nazi? And killed people? Are you this stupid? The Pope was automatically enrolled in the hitler youth. He deserted it and was never active in it.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Skep

      Gerald, quit trying to cover it up. He was a member. Membership was voluntary. Plenty of Nazis escaped justice by going into the Catholic priesthood.
      Funny how you don't mention how so many Catholics were part of the Hitler Youth. It wasn't just Ratzinger, there were thousands of Catholic youth in the Hitler Youth. What of them? You sick f.ck.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  20. Anton LaVey

    I wonder how many innocent victims there are from the direct hand of the pope?

    September 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Peter

      That would be zero.... But since you use the name of a satanist as a handle it doesnt matter what I say, because you will believe as you wish and spread lies as Anton Lavey did and admitted to.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • gerald

      Your post only shows the prevelant bigotry out there. People like you think every priest, bishop, and pope is a child molester. Hardly intelligent.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • William Demuth

      gerald

      And you believe men stay celibate for imaginary sky buddies?

      Half the clergy would bugger Christ himself given half an opportunity, and the other half would make sure the Virgin Mary wasn't!

      September 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Nem

      Why people blame every to Pope. Pope this and Pope that. Please judge yourself.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Nem

      @ William Demuth. Watch yourself, you will be burn in hell without having time to say sorry.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Turning Texas Blue

      Lol! @ William. I mean, eeeewww... I mean.... Shoot, I can't decide....

      September 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • GERALD

      willy, just because your buggering everything that moves does not mean everyone is.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • BusyPerson

      You're not a well person.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nem

      Hell? HAHAHAHAHA

      The pope should burn here. On the same altar of lies he has used to persecute MILLIONS of innocents.

      Stick your imaginary hell in your ear.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • GERALD

      Nem, willy doesn't believe in a hell so when he goes there he will just view it as one big long bad dream that he hopes to some day wake up from.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "@ William Demuth. Watch yourself, you will be burn in hell without having time to say sorry."

      More fear mongering.....Christians, do you use any other tactics? You know, like actual intellectual conversation?

      September 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.