International Criminal Court dismisses abuse claims against the Vatican

VATICAN CITY — A campaign to hold former Pope Benedict XVI responsible for crimes against humanity floundered on Thursday (June … Continued

VATICAN CITY — A campaign to hold former Pope Benedict XVI responsible for crimes against humanity floundered on Thursday (June 13) as the International Criminal Court in The Hague threw out a case filed by victims of clergy sex abuse.

The case had been presented in September 2011 by SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, accusing the pope and other senior Vatican officials of failing to stop abusive priests.

According to a SNAP statement, the court’s prosecutor’s office said on May 31 that the file presented against leaders of the Roman Catholic Church does not meet the “preconditions of the court” and thus “do not appear to fall within the (court’s) jurisdiction.”

Court officials could not be reached for comment, but The Associated Press reported that the court letter said it can only examine “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

“I never doubted this would be the response (of the ICC), given the total groundlessness of the accusation,” said the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

After Benedict’s resignation in February, the Vatican said he would continue living within the Vatican, which would provide him with diplomatic immunity from prosecution, according to a Reuters report.

“We’re neither deterred nor discouraged by this news,” said SNAP President Barbara Blaine, who said the victims group will continue to collect evidence on the Vatican’s record on child abuse.

David Clohessy, SNAP’s national director, said the ICC decision dismissed the case but not necessarily the pope’s culpability for abuse.

“No one at the world court is suggesting that somehow, the pope automatically has immunity before the ICC or that the widespread and pervasive wrongdoing we have documented isn’t serious enough to be considered by the court,” he said.

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  • snapjudy

    “the total groundlessness of the accusation”?? — Lombardi has a lot of nerve to say that, especially since the ICC did not dismiss the case because they considered it to be “groundless”.

    We continue to collect information and work to expose the truth about church officials enabling and empowering child predators to sexually abuse children. We thank the Center for Constitutional Rights for continuing to help us bring these crimes against humanity to the ICC, because it is not over.

    The sex abuse and cover up within the Catholic church hierarchy is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still covering up sex crimes against kids, they are still not removing accused predator clergy and employees, and they still are not reporting to law enforcement. Even in the USA, their so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by all the bishops who created it. They don’t have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting innocent kids. Many of these bishops and church officials need to be held accountable and spend some time behind bars. Until that happens, they will not change.

    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day, so silence is not an options anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. [email protected],

    “SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  • Ann D

    If the ICC had accepted the case and tried it, the Vatican would have been totally exonerated — so runs the implication of Rev Lombardi’s statement that the charges are “totally groundless.”

    Lombardi should know better. His statement, if anything, is a lie, and a devastatingly cruel lie to the many victims of clergy sex abuse and their families. Unless the Vatican apologizes and corrects the lie by telling the Truth, SNAP and others who want answers should keep on digging for the Truth. And they will.