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. CJA

    What I don't understand is if people don't like what the Catholic Church does why don't they simply ignore it and walk away? Maybe they like the costumes.. I can understand that. Some of the styles from past centuries really were cool.

    September 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • maggie

      Obviously, it is not the simple question you pose of "not liking" what the Catholic church does but rather, thousands of crimes that the Catholic church aided and abetted by ignoring what was going on or simply sending these offending priests to other parishes to "make the problem go away." You or I would have been in jail long ago.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  2. TheLord

    From "Medicinal Fried Chicken" an episode of South Park
    “Does the pope help pedophiles get away with their crimes?”
    “Is that something I’d want to do? Is the Pope Catholic? And making the world safe for pedophiles?”
    “Does a bear crap in the woods? And does the Pope crap on the lives and dreams of 200 deaf boys?”

    September 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • A Theist

      Thanks to that episode, I will never stand in front of a microwave that sits at waste level.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  3. JayDeeT

    There are times when it appears that the Pope and his sychophants believe that we are still living in the 13th century! So, they act as if they are totally – absolutely- immune from committing any crime, against anyone, anyplace, at any time, no matter what laws any government has against such crimes. When will the real work wake up and see what these mind-control "religions" are doing to innocent people??

    September 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  4. DinoF

    accusing the pope is rediculous. The Catholic Church is guilty, but they should be forgiven.

    September 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • A Theist

      We'll send some priests to your household when you aren't home so you can be given a chance to forgive them later. This isn't about forgiveness (though at some point that will be the next step), right now justice must be recognized and served.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I shall pardon them AFTER their death.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  5. Sam

    Leo, your history lesson is correct. Constantine did in fact change the Sabbath (7th day) to Sunday (the 1st day) as the day of Christian worship. However, true Christians worship on the Sabbath as Christ always did. Christ also died on the cross as a Jew. However, he died and rose again as the Son of God as that is truly who HE was.

    I would rather take the chance believing in HIM through faith, die and find he is not there, than to repute HIM, die and have to face HIM square in the eye as faithless!

    September 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Allah is gonna be ticked at you.


      September 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Mickey D

      I love all these comments. This is a meeting place for the insane...
      Funniest thing about sheep, I mean bible thumpers is how they only take from the bible what suits them and their beliefs best. The definition of hypocrits at its best!

      September 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • unbeliever

      And Jehovah too: wait until you meet him

      September 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • CJA

      Dude. You don't have to worry one minute about being dead and then finding out anything. You'll be dead, gone, unable to find out or know anything any more then a rock can know of find out anything. Just accept it and be on with your life.

      Let's say I'm wrong and there really is a good who punishes people for not worshiping him. I really don't want to meet such a jerk.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  6. PulTab

    Putting money in the collection plate at a catholic church is the same as going into a prison and giving money to the child molesters.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • CJA

      You have a good point. If you are going to go after the pope, who was not even in office at the time then certainly you need also to go after those who are supporting him.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  7. Babak from LA

    As the head of the corporation he is the only person who can not pass the buck. Yeah let's bring up the charges and let chips fall where they may ..... I am more concerned about the vitims that the church.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  8. Bob

    What a perfect move! You don't have to actually be able to convict. They convict themselves for not turning themselves in according to their own espoused credo. If any one of them, including the "holy-see" himself, had a shred of self-respect, he would publicly proclaim himself guilty of AT LEAST the "blind-eye" accusation and HAPPILY "martyr" himself just like his favorite hero!

    September 13, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • A Theist

      If they're abusing kids, then Jesus ain't their favorite hero.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  9. Mel Gibson

    Pope on a rope!

    September 13, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • A Theist

      Priest not released!

      September 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  10. CJ

    Religion is not above the law. Religions should all be practicing keeping within the law. After all... they sure love to preach it. Therefore if they do wrong, they should also suffer the consequences.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • DamianKnight

      Agreed, CJ! And the Bible even talks about this in Romans 13:3-5.

      The clergy should be completely open and honest, so as to show themselves blameless. The only reason to hide...well...is to cover something up...

      September 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Infidelio

      There are many ways in which religion IS above the law. If I am trying to sell a drug that cures a disease I am not allowed to do so unless it is accepted by the FDA. If I am a faith healer (check out multimillionaire Benny Hinn) I can do "faith healing" and get very rich by taking money from gullible victims (many of them ignoring conventional medical practice because they are "bible believing".

      September 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  11. Buddha2112


    September 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  12. Thin The Herd

    Poor Peter.
    They have you right where they want you
    and you are too blind to see it.
    If you believe in God, God gave you a brain
    please use it.
    Thats all the church does is suck your soul
    and your wallet.

    Peter, do you know that the Vatican is so rich, it could feed this whole planet for years,
    ask yourself why they dont.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  13. David, CA

    Cue the press release from the vatican which blames the victims in 3...2...1...

    September 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  14. Mark B.

    Where is the reasoning in this. Hate drives people insane.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • David, CA

      Mark B- the reasoning is that the Vatican CLEARLY has not learned from or wants the whole "scandal" to disappear. While they were claiming reforms to their disgusting M.O. in America, there very same crimes and cover-ups were going on in Ireland. They're in this up to their filthy gold plated necks.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • yeasayer

      The reasoning behind this is that religious organizations should not be allowed to harbor criminals.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  15. atsudo nym

    Why can't the US prosecute under RICO?

    September 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • William Demuth

      Lack of courage, and a threat of political retaliation by the zealots

      September 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Patrick OMalley

      He's right, Catholics would scream if someone tried to investigate the pedophile protection program.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  16. Rachel

    This and any organization which protects predators are disgusting. The difference with the church is that they have a fiduciary duty to their followers, it's them they have to protect. It's so sad to see. I'm not religious at all, but I feel for those who believe and have to deal with the shame these monsters have brought upon their churches.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • William Demuth

      He He She said fiduciary!

      How cool is that! Nerd word of the day!

      September 13, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  17. Frank Castle

    Yo ! MR. MISS OR WHOEVER YOU ARE......WHERE ARE MY COMMENTS ? THERE SHOULD BE TWO (2) POSTED.....I'LL GIVE YOU A FEW MINUTES.....Everything has been on point....what's up ?

    September 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • William Demuth

      Here to Punish?

      September 13, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Frank Castle

      *Not aware of the 'auto-word' filter..? Watch your word and word combinations such as att-i-tude as it has the word ( t!t ) in it. Or circ-umstances (c-u-m) etc...


      September 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • A Theist

      Aye, Will, here to punish, but not with a hero-inspired story. Instead, he unleashes the fury of the Caps-lock. He is...tHE pUNISHER! 😉

      September 13, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • William Demuth

      A Theist

      I thought I was the only one to remember!.

      I guess you know it from the movies?

      I used to buy the underground mag! It suited my angry temperament!

      September 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • A Theist

      Yeah I'm a movie nerd. Never had time to really get into graphic novels, but I was at least true to Watchmen and read it before seeing the film. I have friends who loved reading the Batman series too. Darker, human heroes are always better than invincible, super hero alternatives.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  18. MR


    September 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  19. nightsun2k7

    Peace is on it's way and it won't be because of religion but rather in spite of it.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  20. Leo

    Perhaps, in the whole history of the popes, only one pope was honest.

    This pope was Pope Leo the Tenth in the sixteenth century.

    He is reported to have said, “It has served us well, this myth of Christ.”

    Jesus had never even heard the name Christianity. It has been imposed on him, he was not the founder of Christianity.

    His life was written eighty years after his death, by people who had not directly known him.

    Now even Christian scholars have come to the conclusion that the Christian gospels were not written by the apostles but were written by somebody else, because the mountains described are not in the same place where they are described in the gospels. The rivers described are not in the same place where they are described in the gospels.

    Everything was written by people who had not known Jesus Christ, and neither had they lived with Jesus Christ.

    Who exactly was the founder of Christianity?

    One thing is certain, Jesus was not. He never thought about founding a religion, he was simply telling the Jews, “I am your last prophet.”

    He died on the cross as a Jew.

    You can find Buddhism in the teachings of Gautam Buddha; he was the founder. You can find in the teachings of Mahavira that he was the founder of Jainism. You can find in the teachings of Lao Tzu that he was the founder of Taoism.

    But it is a very strange thing about Christianity: Jesus had no idea at all, was not interested in creating a new religion.

    Then who founded Christianity?

    The man who founded it – you will not believe it – was the Emperor Constantine. The church knows it, but does not allow the public to know it.

    Emperor Constantine of Rome, who headed the Council of Nicea, died as a Christian, but he was baptized only on his deathbed. His whole life he was the high priest of the Sun God religion, which was why he changed the sabbath from Saturday, which was Jesus’ sabbath day, to Sunday. Jews still have their sabbath on Saturday, and Jesus also had lived his whole life believing in the sabbath on Saturday. How did it become Sunday?

    It was Constantine, who was a worshipper of the Sun God. Sunday represents the sun; the followers of the sun have always believed that Sunday is a holy day.

    It was Constantine who was actually the founder of Christianity. He was the decisive factor in the Council of Nicea. It was under his pressure – because he was the emperor of Rome – that the priests voted for the divine personality of Jesus. He made Jesus a divine person. It was his creation, his invention.

    Constantine saw Jesus as a failed messiah, with himself as the real messiah – and his view was ratified by the famous Christian bishop, Eusebius of Caesarea, who said, “It is as if the religion of Abraham is at last fulfilled, not in Jesus, but in Constantine.”

    He also changed Jesus’ birthday from January sixth to December twenty-fifth, the day of the solar rebirth. The twenty-fifth of December, which is celebrated all over the world, is not Jesus’ birthday. The whole idea of their Christmas is bogus – and the church knows it perfectly well but won’t allow people to know about it.

    Jesus was born on January sixth, but under Constantine’s influence and power, it was changed to December twenty-fifth, the day of the solar rebirth. It is thought by the sun worshippers that the sun was born on the twenty-fifth of December.

    The whole of Christianity is living in utter darkness.

    Constantine, killed ten thousand people in a single day. He just called an assembly of all those who were not Catholics in a great auditorium in Rome, and ordered the army to kill everybody: “We don’t want anybody other than Christians in Rome.” He forced the whole of Italy to become Christian… just at the point of a sword.

    The whole history of Christianity is of wars and nothing else – killing and violence.

    Constantine imposed himself as the real last prophet for whom the Jews had been waiting. Of course, the Jews could not crucify the emperor of Rome. And the Christians wanted some royal support; otherwise they were being crucified everywhere. They found a shelter in Constantine, but it was a bargain, purely business. They accepted that Jesus was a failed messiah, and that Constantine was the real messiah.

    But this is not told to the public! Christians are not aware of it. All these scriptures are hidden under the Vatican.

    They have been talking about truth, but they have been hiding immensely important things.

    They have changed all the gospels, they have edited everything that was going to be difficult for them to argue for, to defend.

    The whole of Christianity lives in a paranoia that if anybody finds some truth, then what is going to happen to their lies that they go on propagating?

    Osho – Christianity the deadliest poison...

    September 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Thin The Herd

      That was great Leo.
      During the council of Nicea, anybody who disagreed with Constantine was killed.
      Great way to put the bible together.
      Why was the gospel of Mary Magdalene later called a forgery ?
      Because it showed Mary to be very close to Jesus, even closer than most of the deciples
      and the church cant have that.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Mark B.

      Have you not read the New Testament? The Church- Christ's bride- not Catholicism, Lutheranism, or any "ism" is Christianity. It's only tenet is to folllow Christ, accept Him as the Messiah, love no one more than God, teach others the same and love you neighbor. EVERYTHING ELSE IS MAN MADE and an attempt to conform God to man's image.

      September 13, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Peace2All


      Interesting read...


      September 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • AGuest9

      His brother James, or "James The Just" founded the church, through a series of Councils, the most prominent being the Council of Jerusalem in 50 CE. Some of these councils are chronicled in the so-called "Acts of the Apostles".

      September 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • p gibson

      it's an interesting summary of the Catholic Church's inception, Leo. Thank you.
      I think that people and religion can go hand in hand, but with a caveat: one must be diligently balanced. I use the metaphor that Religion is like a drug, in that it makes people feel better – and cope. The problems arise when, like drug addicts, they can't feel good enough, and so they abuse religion in theier lives, and they become lost in the story of life- – as addicts of religion.

      Balance this out, and religion *could* have a place in life – but certainly not to the degree that Constantine envisioned – he was the Jim Jones of the Catholic Church.

      Balance, as with anything, is key.

      BTW -I'm not affiliated with Christianity at all any longer. It's for weak minded people with tendencies toward covering up their tracks (confession) after they've done something that they believe to have been a "bad" thing (sinning).

      Hence, the wholesale chucking of personal responsibility and integrity.

      good post.

      September 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Leo, while I agree with a fair amount of your summary, the Council of Nicaea didn't take place for nearly 300 years after the accepted year of the death of Jesus (in 325 CE). The concept and the religion was certainly kept alive in other places, such as the "Eastern church" in Constantinople, which held its "First Council" in 381 CE. It was also where we see the intertwining of the religion and politics, as Constantinople was proclaimed "The New Rome". Constantinople also amended the Nicene creed, to create its present form, including the status of Mary as "virgin", and the formulation and inclusion of the "trinity"

      September 13, 2011 at 12:26 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.