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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. MIke

    I'll be following this case closely. Hope to see the Pope & crew face a civil court hearing.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Alan K

      Based on what? Any evidence that they committed a crime or is this just to satisfy your anti-Catholic bigotry?

      September 13, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • William Demuth

      Alan K

      I believe the evidence was about 20,000 pages long?

      I hope one of the predators gets someone YOU care about after your beloved cult hid him, transfered him and supported him.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • DaveinCincy

      @Willy .....you're ramblings are non-sensical.God is very real just try looking around you. Step out of your shanty in the woods. ted kaczynski??

      September 13, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • msmith

      yeah! you go ahead a follow real closely, JERK.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  2. prophet

    but even now these athiests are being abusive with what they say and this shows that they are unable to give their opinions in a pleasant manner and so this shows that they really are wrong and cannot be anything else except insulting. One day they will realise that they had the help available to them to be normal and pleasant.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • BRC

      @Prophet,
      I thought I responded to you in a very calm and fair manner. But you never answered my questions. Yes, there are atheists who use abrasive language adn tactics, but surely you can understand some anger given teh issue.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • jc

      When was the last time an Atheist planted a bomb outside public building, simply to kill all those inside because they did not follow his non-beliefs? Have you ever heard of an Atheist eviscerating himself inside a church, synagog or mosque because the people inside did not agree with his non-religious views?

      September 13, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Frank

      You call yourself the prophet. That in itself wreaks of bigotry. To call yourself a prophet and knowing that you are not therefore makes you a false prophet which is a sin against religion and god. So stand on your high horse my friend and preach but any one with half a brain will not listen.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  3. markjuliansmith

    Faith provides Secular and Religious Certainty the Greater the Certainty the Greater the Danger to Humanity.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Rachel

      Well said. If history has taught us anything, it's that religious is dangerous. My belief is that one can be a good person without having to join a gang (church), read a book or enter a building a couple times a week. If we give, volunteer and treat others with kindness, this world would be so much better-off. It's awful to think there are people who consider themselves good when if you're not with them or share their beliefs, you'll burn in a lake of fire, or some awful illusion their religion states. They want to save us and help us, only if we join their exclusive club but they have no proof of anything they preach, only what is in a book written and inspired by man picking and choosing which parts apply and which don't...no thank you.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  4. ColoredMountains

    International Criminal Court should prosecute the European and American governments for letting the abusing of its Christian population keeps going in the land. The West should surrender the ownership of all the church buildings to the Chinese now the China has the largest Christian population on earth.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • William Demuth

      Ah my crazy slope freind is back.

      Have you brushed up on the Rice Blight yet?

      Its designed to reduce the Christian infection spreading in Asia.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  5. annie

    YES!!!!! ALWAYS listen to what the victim wants in ALL cases of abuse!!!! They are the only ones who know what will help them best to cope with what has happened to them!!! NEVER NEVER NEVER listen to what the PERPETRATOR wants!!!!!!!!! Unless, of course that is specifically what a VICTIM would ask for. LISTEN TO THE VICTIM!! They will reveal exactly what they need!!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Alan K

      Yes!!! Ann!!!! Yes!!! I agree that victims should get whatever they want from perpetrators. I am victimized by having to read the idiocy and the blather spouted by you and many of these posters. Therefore, please send one million dollars to me for the wrongs you have committed against me.

      BTW, crimes against humanity?? What a lot of nonsense. These victims should be compensated and the preps who did the actual abuse jailed, but this tactic shows they are nothing more than anti-Catholic bigots.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  6. Who Cares

    No , they wont prosecute him
    All the presidents,Judges ,Prosecutors bow before him like he is there God
    He is above the law forkers !!

    September 13, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      As sad as it is.. this might in fact be the case. Just read the end of the article where they're trying to shove this off as nothing but a "publicity stunt". Sickening.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Dictator

      Pope = Poop

      September 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  7. NReptilian

    Thank you CNN Christian News Network. Your MIRACLE videoes that VIRGIN MARRY saved a house in Texas fire, and A huge Wooden Cross was intact in the middle of wild fire were very impressive. Please report more MIRACLES to our Christian Community. CNN Christian News Network can teach people to go back to a church and read the Bible.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • William Demuth

      It can also teach that we can prosecute churches, and tax them into oblivion.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  8. JFB

    the Pope is big part of those heinous crimes, he never took any actions, allows it, covers it up, and i wont be surprised if they discover he actually did it when he was younger possibly! he definitely fits the profile of a pedophile

    September 13, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • jc

      Yes, you sound like a trustworthy person with prudent judgement. Lets put you in charge!

      September 13, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Richard

      Let the abused turn the other cheek.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  9. Hidden

    You all have or are missing the point of spirituality.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • markjuliansmith

      "missing the point of spirituality" It is spiritual to molest boys and women? To use positions of power to enable abuse. What part of spirit have we all missed?

      September 13, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • brin3m

      excuse me? perhaps you could expand on your point

      September 13, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • pat carr

      i'm glad i missed the "point", if it means staying away from child molesters

      September 13, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Hidden

      I'm not justifying anyone..but these responses are unwarranted (well the majority are).

      September 13, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Hidden

      @brin3m spirituality has nothing to do with justifying perverts, and to be honest I don't see the resulting correlation made by the other responders. To be spiritual, is to operate opposite of carnal. Regardless of how "we" feel about perverts, pedophiles, etc...we aren't perfect ourselves to judge another. I fully believe in karma, and feel that all of these pervs will get justice served, however very few people are arguing or posting intelligently, but rather through emotions.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Brent

      No, Hidden I think YOU are missing the point of spirituality. Being spiritual is all about being the best human being one can possibly be. It's about reaching peace within yourself, never harming any living being, and becoming one with everything around you. Believing in Christianity or Catholisism and being Spiritual are two completely different things. I don't believe in hell, I don't believe in a God who hates what he created, but what I do believe in is making the world a better place for everyone through a unifying love and peace for all beings.

      This is not meant to hurt or offend, but to simply guide you on what it really is you are missing.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Hidden

      @Brent...my original post didn't mention WHY I said anyone was missing the point...so how did you OR ANYONE else correlate "missing the point of spirituality" with belief in anything...I made a statement...and you all took it and ran with it..Truly I am not missing any points..I'm merely pointing out the minute debates that fill response mediums based on assumptions.

      I do, however agree with some points you said, but my intent was never to argue them...see post prior to your last.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Brent

      After reading your past statement, I cometely retract my statement.

      Namaste

      September 13, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Hidden

      No problem and Shalam Brent.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    What, no comments from herbie the Dumb Bug? I wanted to hear the "squeeky wheel"! And where's Marky Mark? Is he going to an "ivory league school"?

    Really, I need my guffaw fix.

    Oh, well, I'm sure HeavenStink will be along any moment now to pretend that there's only one person who despises her and that he/she is just posting under multiple names.

    As if.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  11. prophet

    a lot of people on here say that they are not religious, well done, because to Believe in God is not to be in a religion.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • William Demuth

      And to call yourself a prophet is a sure sign you are a mad man

      September 13, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Does he perform any miracles? Let's throw him in the dryer and see if he survives.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  12. blueangel

    This is just as dumb as believing that God killed Jesus to pay for the sins of everybody else in the world. Lets not stoop to thier level and lets do the right thing which is prosecute the people who actually did it.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Colin

      Christianity is the belief that god impregnated a virgin with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to "forgive" an original sin that we now all know never happened.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • just me

      How insulting can you be. I don't walk around calling you dumb because you don't believe. I am not dumb and I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and for yours. I don't disrespect your belief so don't insult mine. It's call respect!

      September 13, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Colin

      Just me – and would you afford the same immunity from criticism to one who believed in leprechauns? Given that there is an identical amount of evidence for the existenc of your Bronze Age sky god as there is for leprechauns, I think one can justifiable refer to Christianinty as "dumb" or at least, completely oblivious to its inherent improbability.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • William Demuth

      just me

      If you are part of this cult you belong hanging at the end of a rope.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • pat carr

      not dumb just brainwashed. it's ok i was brought up in a fundy christian househould. and "jesus" didn't die for my sins as he didn't exist

      September 13, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • JewGoneSouth

      Why should people respect specious claims? You don't respect claims that your wife is cheating on you or that your father was a pedophile because they have no basis in fact. But you would like everyone to respect the even less probable claims of the bible out of respe t simply because you were indoctrinated by them. This type of automatic respect is what perpetuates delusional thinking and harbors the extremes of every religion in a cloak of unchallengable respect.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  13. prophet

    this professor that is mentioned that wrote a book about jesus just shows the problems that we talk about as Our Saviours Name was never jesus so even this professor has got it wrong.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • William Demuth

      Ah the prophet speaks

      So name your God and enlighten us oh wise sage.

      The world waits to kneel to you.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  14. moses

    everybody who is donating money to these religious organizations should be held responsible as well.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Eric

      If every Catholic that ever left a tieth to the church should be proceeded, then by extension EVERY MUSLIM who ever donated to ANY ISLAMIC charity or mosque that ever sent money to the Jihad should be tried for treason and terrorism.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • William Demuth

      Eric

      Agreed

      Hang the camel jockeys right next to the rapists.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  15. Hector

    As far as the law goes they will have a case. As far as the reality of the legal system in most countries go: this case will get a lot of media and make lots of money for the people who just watch everyone else suffer. I believe instead of the pope answering all the dilemma it should be the entire Vatican. I'm not an atheist but i do believe after a all the prophets a selection of people tried to change their words and guidance for their own gain and which is why we have so many different religions. If Mohammad, Jesus, and rest of them were still alive you would have seen that they would all be going to the same holy building and praise the same lord, but now churches need money, mosques need money, religion centers need money and it's a business. So please instead of being and ignorant believer just sit back and think, if you believe in god why do you believe on a small person (Compare to God) like jesus or mohammad. If we had one religion like Godessy (believe in god and only god, by the way i'm copyrighting this word) we wouldn't have any problems like we do know. Lets get together and get the godessy thing going.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Lola

      Hector,

      Jesus called the scribes and pharisees hypocrites and said they were like their father the Devil who was a man slayer and liar. So we know that he would not have mixed with false religions.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • claybigsby

      define "false religion" please

      September 13, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  16. Tomas

    God or no god, I'll let the debate rage. But without a doubt if I were elected dictator one of my first acts would be to exterminate organized religion. It is a sap on society and the placebo of the poor and ignorant. It sucks potential from those who can least afford to give it up. The one thing the Soviets had correct, IF there is a God he would not be pleased with the Church. It is a power structure meant to steal.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • John Richardson

      And how exactly would you go about "exterminating" religion?

      September 13, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Dictator

      I would vote for you Tomas. or support you if there is no vote.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • William Demuth

      John Richardson

      The same way YOUR religion exterminate the ones before.

      Taxation, reeducation, forced indoctrination, war and political conspiracy.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, and what is MY religion, William? Other than taxation, all your methods imply violent force. You really think you can use those sorts of means to create a better world?

      September 13, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • William Demuth

      John Richardson

      Few are violent, but this is war, so let the blood flow.

      You Christians don't seem to have many qualms about harming people in the name of your God.

      I just want to return the favor.

      September 13, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  17. prophet

    How can anyone really beleive athiests are right when all they do on here is be abuseive themselves with what they say, and by saying what they say they show how unfortunate most of them really are. Neraly every comment is showing this fact. So they are abusive themselves and yet they say that others are whilst they are abusive themselves.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • William Demuth

      prophet

      Freedom means a man can abuse himself

      Religion means a man can abuse a boy.

      Why are you on the side of the rapists?

      September 13, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Gita

      I guess the concept of saying something and doing something escapes you. You must go to mass now!

      September 13, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • BRC

      I'm trying to understand your post, I really am, but it doesn't quite work. Are you saying that atheists are hypocritical because they chastise the Catholic church, but they do it using harsh/absive language, which is in itself an impolite act?

      Or are you saying that atheists use harsh language because they are angry that they want to know "God" but cannot.

      I'm not agreeing or disagreeing yet, I just want to see if we can actually understand what you're trying to say.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • TRH

      The victims of abuse wish to bring the charges against the church, not atheists, although some of them might be atheists now. I wouldn't blame them.

      You apparently define "abuse" on this forum as stating a position (atheism) that's not the same as yours. You call them unfortunate and being abusive. Maybe, but comparing this "abuse" to destroying a young child's life and childhood is just a little over the top.

      BTW...."i" before "e" except after "c".

      September 13, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • jimtanker

      And you are ABUSING the english language.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Lola

      It is because they have no hope and no accountability that they can say what they want.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • pat carr

      at least we atheists can spell. try getting a spelling class sometime

      September 13, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • pat carr

      "It is because they have no hope and no accountability that they can say what they want."

      no we are quite moral. We don't account to an invisible man in the sky as i am sure you do. Sorry if we aren't brainwashed

      September 13, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Dictator

      And Lola, where is the accountability for those POS priests who abuse children.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  18. Kathy

    Hold them accountable. This has been long overdue. The church IS a corrupt business.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • davidmij

      You mean, "the Catholic church".

      September 13, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • TRH

      ...and it has been a corrupt business for over 1,000 years. Read some history and study the church after the fall of the Roman Empire which was around 410 CE. It had the power to humble kings and peasants alike. And if you were even suspected of not properly practicing worship, you were in serious serious trouble.

      It took a hideous despotic king (Henry VIII) and another religious fanatic (Martin Luther) to finally bring an end to the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church. But of course this opened up a whole new "Pandora's box" of religious abuses, radical offshoots, etc. known to history as the Protestant Reformation.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  19. Colin

    Great news. It probably won't go anywhere, but it is further evidence of the loss of power, influence and prestige that is being experienced by this antiquated organization as the World finally emerges from its Bronze Age supersti.tions.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • William Demuth

      The death of a thousand cuts.

      Each one of these stories means less in the collection plate and more in legal fees.

      If Obama taxes religious donations from the rich, I suspect both the New York and Boston dioceese are headed towards bankrupcy.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Colin

      Wish I'd live to see the last Catholic abandon their faith, Bill.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • William Demuth

      Colin

      Remain hopefull. They are BLEEDING cash, and the tide is turning.

      The Evangelicals, the Liberals, and the lawyers shall do them in.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • Beliel

      Please stop using string of words "the Bronze Age" in all of your commentaries – it is a bit tedious. Evil ("Bad" if you prefer given your fear and loathing of using Scriptural nomenclaure) and Good have been present since time creation. It always will be...pervasive and cyclical...world without end.

      Since you fancy yourself an intellectual, research my name – you might see a reflection of yourself. You take yourself too seriously.

      September 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  20. hippypoet

    tell me oh true believer, what was jesus's real name? what were his followers really called? did you know that back in "jesus" time if the wife was to be prego without the husband doing the deed she was stoned to death... not the good stoning either... do you know that peter himself never spoke about the "holy spirit doing mary" and did you know that if "jesus" had been born in december like the story says he would have most likely died due to lack of food to help the wife mary produce milk... but these are all facts, you believers CHOOSE not to see them as needed to faith...my question, why?

    i need an answer please... i'd prefer a religious person to answer this but i will accecpt smart people as well.

    September 13, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Colin

      Well, I qualify as neither religious nor smart, but I recommend a series of tapes that puts the Bible in a real historical context. They are called "The Historical Jesus" and are by Professor Bart Erhman of UNC. They go over what we REALLY know of JC's life minus the nonsense. Very enlightening.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Most scholars agree that Jesus wasn't born in December, but in the spring. Early Christians began celebrating the birth in Dec. to coincide with pagan rituals celebrating the Winter Solstice.

      I'm not religious.

      Now, wait for it. Any minute, that old bat HeavenStink will be along to accuse me of being "Reality" and about 3 other people.
      It irks her that I point out her lack of humility and her hypocrisy. She does nothing for anyone else because that would require her to actually put forth effort and deal with real people, and she doesn't have the courage for that.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • William Demuth

      HeavenStink has been programed

      I suspect either an orphanage, or by abusive parents.

      It is people like her that MOST need society to put a check on the zealots, lest the fiasco of religion destroy more future generations.

      She is not well, and can't be cured.

      The only question left is if she will need to be put down.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • montyross

      and tell me if you can which galaxy did the aliens come from that dropped us off here, or how come we as humans are far more advanced than other animals, i mean the combinations of cells needed to produce just an eye, there should be trillions of bones and fossils of missing links?......

      September 13, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • tom

      The Bible and it's followers have never claimed Jesus was born in December. That is a secular belief. Jesus was born while the "Shepherds were tending their flocks" making it most likely September or October.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • William Demuth

      montyross

      Actually the eye is EASY.

      Probably the simplest part to explain with evolution.

      As for missing links, I suspect the Pope himself qualifies as one.

      Perhaps we should disect him!

      September 13, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • YoStoney

      Just wanted to point out your grammar mistake. It is jesus' and not jesus's.

      -Wurd

      September 13, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Anton LaVey

      William Demuth

      HeavenStink has been programed

      I suspect either an orphanage, or by abusive parents.

      It is people like her that MOST need society to put a check on the zealots, lest the fiasco of religion destroy more future generations.

      She is not well, and can't be cured.

      The only question left is if she will need to be put down.

      --------–
      Looking over her posts it appears she was abused or something traumatic happened in her life. Damaged goods? Mentally I can only imagine how screwed up she is. This might explain her lack of facing reality. Someone like her might need the bible to give her a delusion of security and everything is okay. Her reality would be scary when you consider her emotional damage. I laugh but I also pity her.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Anton LaVey

      tom

      The Bible and it's followers have never claimed Jesus was born in December. That is a secular belief. Jesus was born while the "Shepherds were tending their flocks" making it most likely September or October.

      ---
      Then the dumb @ s s christians need to change christmas. *rolling eyes*

      September 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • msmith

      Goof! Faith doesn't need answers, jerk!! It believes. You're too dumb to let it sink in.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:11 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.