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Victims' groups file charges against Vatican for 'crimes against humanity'

September 13, 2011

An international coalition of sex-abuse victims has lodged charges with the International Criminal Court at the Hague, charging Pope Benedict XVI and other leading Vatican officials with crimes against humanity.

Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), assisted by the Center for Constitutional Rights, filed an 80-page complaint, accompanied by over 20,000 pages of supporting evidence, claiming that the Holy See bears "direct and superior responsibility for the crimes against humanity of rape and other sexual violence committed around the world." The charges were directed against Pope Benedict and three Vatican officials: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State; his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano; and Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Experts in international law said that it is extremely unlikely the Hague court will take up the case. The court does not have jurisdiction over the Holy See, and the charges raised in the complaint fall well short of the standards required for an international trial. Similar charges against the Vatican had been lodged in the past, and no prosecution ensued.

However, legal experts said that the SNAP case could serve the group's purposes by "raising awareness" of their cause. In other words, the case will generate publicity.


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  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Sep. 13, 2011 3:53 PM ET USA

    "Awareness" is not the only thing SNAP is trying to raise. Try "Funds."

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Sep. 13, 2011 3:24 PM ET USA

    SNAP should be careful: publicity is a two-edged sword.