The Center for Constitutional Rights and Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) filed a case with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Pope Benedict XVI and three top Vatican officials – Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state,  Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – for crimes against humanity in their cover up of the sexual abuses of children by priests. The lawsuit is the first time charges have been filed regarding the abuses in an international court.

Pamela Spees, an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “National jurisdictions can’t really get their arms around this. Prosecuting individual instances of child molestation or sexual assault has not gotten at the larger systemic problem here. Accountability is the goal, and the I.C.C. makes the most sense, given that it’s a global problem.”

International law experts suggested that the ICC , which handles war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, will begin by holding a preliminary investigation to determine whether the case is within the court’s jurisdiction.  Barbara Dorris, president of SNAP, stated, “We are convinced this is the proper jurisdiction. Who else can investigate violent crimes of a global magnitude? The ICC was created to deal with widespread systematic violent crimes against humanity.” Nevertheless, the ICC only has jurisdiction in countries that have ratified the Rome Statute that created the court in 2002, which does not include the Vatican.

New York Times 9/13/11; SNAP 9/13/11; CNN 9/13/11; NPR 9/13/11

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