Pope and top Vatican cardinals have been accused of possible crimes
against humanity for sheltering guilty Catholic priests, in formal
complaints to the International Criminal Court.
Pope Benedict XVI Photo: AFP/GETTY
By Our Foreign Staff
2:51PM BST 13 Sep 2011
The Centre for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based non-profit
legal group, requested an ICC inquiry on behalf of the Survivors
Network, arguing that the global church has maintained a “long-standing
and pervasive system of sexual violence” despite promises to swiftly
The Vatican said it had no immediate comment on the complaint.
The complaint names Pope Benedict XVI, partly in his former role as leader of the Vatican’s Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, which in 2001 explicitly gained
responsibility for overseeing abuse cases; Cardinal William Levada, who
now leads that office; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of
state under Pope John Paul II; and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who now
holds that post.
Lawyers for the victims say rape, sexual violence and torture are
considered a crime against humanity as described in the international
treaty that spells out the court’s mandate. The complaint also accuses
Vatican officials of creating policies that perpetuated the damage,
constituting an attack against a civilian population.
Barbara Blaine, president of the US-based Survivors Network of those
Abused by priests, said going to the court was a last resort.
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“We have tried everything we could think of to get them to stop and
they won’t,” she said. “If the Pope wanted to, he could take dramatic
action at any time that would help protect children today and in the
future, and he refuses to take the action.”
The odds against the court opening an investigation are enormous. The
prosecutor has received nearly 9,000 independent proposals for
inquiries since 2002, when the court was created as the world’s only
permanent war crimes tribunal, and has never opened a formal
investigation based solely on such a request.
Instead, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has investigated crimes such
as genocide, murder, rape and conscripting child soldiers in conflicts
from Darfur to this year’s violence in Libya. Such cases have been
referred to the court by the countries where the atrocities were
perpetrated or by the UN Security Council.
Also, the Holy See is not a member state of the court, meaning
prosecutors have no automatic jurisdiction there, although the complaint
covers alleged abuse in countries around the world, many of which do
recognise the court’s jurisdiction.
The prosecutor’s office said in a statement the evidence would be
studied. “We first have to analyse whether the alleged crimes fall under
the Court’s jurisdiction,” it said.
The Survivors Network and victims are pursuing the case as the abuse
scandal, once dismissed as an American problem by the Vatican,
intensifies around the world. Thousands of people have come forward in
Ireland, Germany and elsewhere with reports of abusive priests, bishops
who covered up for them and Vatican officials who moved so slowly to
respond that molesters often stayed on the job for decades.
Vatican officials and church leaders elsewhere have apologised
repeatedly, clarified or toughened church policies on ousting abusers
and, in the US alone, paid out nearly $3 billion in settlements to
victims and removed hundreds of priests.
The Vatican is fighting on multiple legal fronts in the US against lawsuits alleging the Holy See is liable for abusive priests.
Those prosecutions also could form an impediment to the ICC taking
the case. The tribunal is a court of last resort, meaning it will only
take cases where legal authorities elsewhere are unwilling or unable to
Also, the court does not investigate crimes that occurred before its
2002 creation. A study commissioned by the US bishops from the John Jay
College of Criminal Justice in New York found abuse claims had peaked in
the 1970s, then began declining sharply in 1985, as the bishops and
society general gained awareness of the problem.
Original Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/8760103/Pope-accused-of-crimes-against-humanity.html
Thanks to: http://2012indyinfo.com