Vatican sexual abuse court case

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Abuse victims take claims to court over Vatican role

Tuesday 13 September 2011

by Our Foreign Desk

Clergy sex abuse victims brought claims to the International Criminal Court today, seeking an investigation of the Pope and top Vatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based non-profit legal group, requested the inquiry on behalf of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which is outraged that no high-ranking Roman Catholic leaders have been prosecuted for sheltering paedophile priests.

The legal group argued that the global church has maintained a “long-standing and pervasive system of sexual violence” despite promises to swiftly boot out predators.

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.

Also, the Holy See is not a member state of the court, meaning that 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.

But attorneys for the Survivors Network argued that no other national entity exists that will prosecute high-level Vatican officials who failed to protect children.

In the US, no Roman Catholic bishop has been criminally charged for keeping accused clergy in parish jobs without warning parents or police.

Within the church, only the pope can discipline bishops.

The few who have been publicly punished by the Vatican have been sanctioned for molesting children, not for negligence in supervising priests.

“When a church has been left to its own devices it does nothing. It wouldn’t even have the reforms it has now if these cases hadn’t begun to bubble up and erupt in the public outside the confines of what the church can control,” said Centre for Constitutional Rights lawyer Pam Hess leading the case.

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, who was the Vatican secretary of state under Pope John Paul II, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who now holds that post.

Lawyers for the victims equate the abuse with rape, sexual violence and torture which is 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.

Pope Benedict speaks to German parliament against majority rule and “ungodly” laws: here.

6 thoughts on “Vatican sexual abuse court case

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