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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. Thin The Herd

    ******* Peter

    He is the Vicar of Christ, has been given the power of Christ on earth in heaven and hell. He is not God, or Christ but he is the representative of Christ on earth.

    And who gave the pope this power on earth ??????
    Oh yeah, The pope.
    Isnt that how dictators work ?

    September 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Peter

      You comment yet know not anything of what you speak. Study the process of becoming Pope and all the word that is involved in the being elevated to his position. Its much more complicated then you realize or choose to believe.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • chief

      re peter ... that process was made by man,.... not biblical at all.... and it keeps people like you under its control

      September 13, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  2. Thin The Herd

    ******** Peter

    God only helps those who help themselves.. God created the glass and gave him the knowledge to protect himself...STUPID

    And Harry Potter waves his wand, and all is well.
    Peter, you need help, and quick.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Peter

      I need not any help except from my lord, you on the other hand will burn in hell... You need the help friend and my prayers will remember you this day.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  3. Bert0529

    Peter, get off the fence and take a position.....

    September 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  4. Michael

    Yes, prosecute him for his part in concealing abuse.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  5. Thin The Herd

    ********* Peter

    No he hasnt, he is great man, but you I think has laid with dogs and allowed dirty beasts to penetrate you.

    I thought Christians are not supposed to judge others ?
    Turn the other cheek......nah.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Peter

      Turning the other cheek... Christ did and asked us too, but as humans and defenders of Gods word sometimes we must fight, as in the bible to defend the people of God fighting happened and the righteous were victorious. We can only ask forgiveness and do as we can to do right, but not lay down to the insults and false teaching of those God spits from his mouth.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  6. Abraxas

    Child molesting is nothing compared to the genocide the Catholic church has engaged in for centuries. Burn the Vatican and all the cardinals.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  7. Thin The Herd

    This pope is the anti-christ.
    Upside down cross
    fish head hats
    Pagan symbols

    You Christians are not supposed to worship false idols
    yet every time an event happens at the vatican
    millions kneel before this man worshiping him as if he was Christ.
    The true meaning of Christianity has been usurped by the devil
    and you follow blindly.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Peter

      He is the Vicar of Christ, has been given the power of Christ on earth in heaven and hell. He is not God, or Christ but he is the representative of Christ on earth.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • chief

      re peter..... you are a blasphemous fooll... he is no more the representive of Christ as charles manson is to bandaids...
      you need to study what blasphemy is....

      September 13, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • A Theist

      Then he's doing a bad job.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • John Richardson

      Yo, Chief. I lost you on the Charles Manson – Band Aids analogy.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • chief

      re john.... great response..... the obsurdity of the pope being the voice or representative of Christ equates to manson being a spokesperson for bandaids.... yeah, i know, its where the mental roladex of obscurity landed when typing

      September 13, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  8. phan

    If you give these people and hour of your time per week... I question your intelligence.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Peter

      You offer satan all the hours of the day, week and month and years of your life and you question someone else intelligence. You and all like miinded will burn in Hell, I hope you rememeber this and change your views before its to late.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Bert0529

      Threats of Hellfire from self righteous zealots are like badges of honor.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • DamianKnight

      @Peter,

      Is this really necessary? Does it do anything except ignite a flame war?

      September 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Pennswoodsman

      HOw holier thou art. I guess you speak for God, eh? The last I looked, only God can judge who goes where, but apparently I am mistaken, Peter gets to decide that. Preachy j*rk *ff

      September 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • chief

      re peter...... if someone isnt catholic, will they burn in hell? if they question the catholic church?

      September 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Peter

      Not always Chief, but they must follow the foundations of the church, have confession and be forgiven. Many churches today do not follow Gods teachings, They believe in salvation thru Christ which is legit, but a simple belief is not all God asks for.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Peter

      " You and all like miinded will burn in Hell, I hope you rememeber this and change your views before its to late. "

      Peter... We know that you are concerned for all of our soul's welfare. We appreciate that.

      You may want to take a 'deep breath' and take a step back on the vitriolic rhetoric.

      This may or may not be your first time here on this 'belief blog' but it 'can' get very rough around here if you're not ready nor prepared to handle the criticisms of your postings.

      So... chill out (if you want to)... relax and you don't have to respond to every posting of someone who criticizes your Pope.

      **Just some friendly advise** 🙂

      Respectfully,

      Peace...

      September 13, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • chief

      re peter... a person doesnt subscribe to the catholic churchs teaching or has never been exposed to it,..... or they in danger of hell (assuming they actually study the bible, confess and belive outside of the churches teachings )

      September 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • chief

      re peace to all...... i think its that catholicclown guy with a new id and without the creeper pic.....

      September 13, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  9. LouAz

    Ha ! A Dutch Inquisition. How fitting. Hang 'em all !

    September 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Peter

      Just stop talking, you prove your ignorance with every word.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  10. jennyy

    I bet the pope has poked a few alter boys in his day

    September 13, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • sadstate

      And you know this how?

      September 13, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Peter

      No he hasnt, he is great man, but you I think has laid with dogs and allowed dirty beasts to penetrate you.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • William Demuth

      Peter

      I suspect you are not American?

      Some orphanage somewhere? Ireland? Italy?

      September 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • chief

      re peter .... and at what point did you think a comment about beasts penetrating a person was good..... your twisted brain should seek help

      September 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Peter

      You are a wishy washy believer Chief, When iHell is spoken of it talks about much worse happening to them then my simple words.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  11. killallthewhiteman

    Why do Catholics think that this is a bad thing? Won't God protect him? On that note, why does he need bullet proof glass around him? Wouldn't God protect him from bullets as well?

    September 13, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Peter

      God only helps those who help themselves.. God created the glass and gave him the knowledge to protect himself...STUPID

      September 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Peter

      "God only helps those who help themselves"

      1) How do you know that exactly...?

      2) Please point to the exact place in the Bible where it states that quotation...? (yes, I know... trick question)

      Regards,

      Peace...

      September 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • chief

      re peter ... "God helps them that helps themselves"? oh like job, or david? or peter being tested by satan? your comment is so ignorant.....

      September 13, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Peter

      2 Thessalonians 3:10 condems the idol people

      September 13, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • DamianKnight

      First, that's "idle" people.

      Second, that's not what the passage is talking about. That passage is talking about working hard and not being lazy. It's not about "God helps who help themselves."

      A better statement is, "God helps, but people have to take the first step." God isn't going to do all of the work while we sit around. David had to walk down and face Goliath before God helped him. Moses had to speak to Pharoah before God gave him the words, etc, etc.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  12. DaveinCincy

    I wonder who would work the soup kitchens if it wasn't for all of us religious crazies?
    Atheists talk a great game, yet parting with their time and money seem to stop them in their tracks.
    FYI: Voting to tax other people doesn't count as giving....

    September 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Peter

      True enough, Athiests dont do anything, lazy bunch. Lots of talk thru their pot filled mouths

      September 13, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • sadstate

      I'm not religious, but that was well said. Thanks.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • May

      You are SO deluded, but then again, you have imaginary friends... FYI, I am an ATHEIST and while living in Africa I helped at the local orphanage AND was a foster parent for an orphan child. On a funny (or not so funny) note, the "christians" who ended up adopting him and his little sister, gave them up after having their own biological child, because as they told me, they did not feel they were fit to be parents. NICE! They told me they were praying for forgiveness! Even better! So go with your religious dogma somewhere else!

      September 13, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Dick Fontaine

      That's a totally innaccurate statement, unless of course you speak for eveyone

      September 13, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Peter

      May is making up her story, she is a liar, all athiests lie, they have no truth in them

      September 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Bill

      May you are a liar ... pure and simple .... a liar ... great story though ... devised to make heartless atheists look good and Christians look bad .... i feel sorry for you ... you are sad and pathetic....

      September 13, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • A Theist

      Pete ol buddy, I want to write a song about you or something, I just don't think I'm at the level of crazy you are, so I find it hard to empathize. I'll just watch what you say from a distance as potential lyrics float by...
      Perscription meds...
      loony bin...
      non-Catholic win....

      Yeah, just not feeling it.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • lorax

      many of you religious crazies love to think that atheists dont give back to anything or care about their fellow man, but its simply not true. you dont need to believe in false deities to hold and act on concern for the creatures of this planet.

      http://www.kiva.org/team/atheists

      September 13, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Fred1

      @Peter: if you don't like May how about this one

      Bishop – condoning genocide in Rwanda
      On 7 May 1994 soldiers and militias arrived at Shyogwe Diocese aboard a red pick-up vehicle to transport civilian Tutsi refugees to the killing sites. "On that day Bishop Samuel Musabyimana was present and, addressing the soldiers and militias, publicly stated that he did not oppose the killing of Tutsis, but that he did not want killings at the Diocese and that the Tutsis should be taken to Kabgayi to be killed." (Indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda against former Anglican Bishop Samuel Musabyimana).

      September 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  13. May

    Finally!!! A step in the right direction, although it will probably end up in nothing!

    September 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  14. Bubba

    Religion of and by itself is not a bad thing. It's the politics and power mongering introduced by man that corrupts it. If the pope and other higher ups knew what was going on and simply moved pedophiles to different churches where they could abuse again then they are responsible and should be charged.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • AZ Wildcat

      Or just redirect them to the Tea Party where pedophilia is a way of life.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Fred1

      Neither are cobras

      September 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  15. ja

    as i understand and according to GOD'S law no man is above reproach, people turn their heads on some with they excute others the mees occurred to long for authorities to be unaware

    September 13, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • A Theist

      Then you must also understand that the Vatican does not have the power to grant a super-weekend sale of Abortion forgiveness. The Catholic Church doesn't always have their head on just right.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  16. WarriorsMark

    Expell the Vatican Ambassador out of the US. The Pope is the ruler of a foreign country who tries to exert undue influence through his devilish minions on the American way of life.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • sadstate

      Sure. Just as soon as we expel all ambassadors from every Muslim country for the same crimes.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  17. A Theist

    Oh no! Looks like the Pope doesn't have international amnesty like he did 500 years ago! No more Pope super powers...

    September 13, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  18. Bubba

    George W Bush knew the info he used to justify the Iraq war was false. Does that make him responsible for all the deaths that occurred in Iraq? Maybe he should be charged with crimes against humanity??

    September 13, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • William Demuth

      OK

      But I suspect Cheney.

      Bush was just an idiot.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Agree

      Any claim that Bush knew something is giving him too much credit; he was merely a puppet. It was Dick Cheney who was pulling the strings, and he should be prosecuted. His only interest was the money this gave his company; the lives of the military were expendable, the lives of the Iraqis were meaningless to him.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • John Richardson

      I too suspect Cheney, but Bush did hold the final position of power. A broad swath of America would go bonkers if either were indicted for crimes against humanity, but it just might happen and it just might make world leaders a little less secure in their thirst for foreign adventurism. On the other hand, it also just might make future Saddam Husseins, Talibans and Ghadfis more secure. It's a pretty vexed question, really.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  19. CASEY ANTHONY

    I am a devout Catholic- don't make fun!

    September 13, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  20. flower12

    POPE=SPAWN OF SATAN

    September 13, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Peter

      Your comment proves your of the devil.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • tallulah13

      Wake up, peter. You are defending a person who protected pedophiles.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Peter

      He never defended pedophiles, you tell lies. He is a man, is not perfect but his way and beliefs are better then the lives that empty souls lead in this world.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • tallulah13

      Peter, if he is innocent, let him have his day in court. How about thinking of the victims for a moment, instead of yourself?

      September 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Peter

      Why should he have a day in court, its a mockery of all. Your son or daughter commits a crime, should you be held accountable for the teachings you brought them up with, of course not they choose on their own. Prosecute the offender, not the organization or the Pope.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:40 am |
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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.