Case Documents

View Attached Documents

Take Action

Take Action: No U.S. Support for War Crimes by Israel!

Please call the White House and send a letter to your representatives to protest the…

Related Cases

What's New

Center for Constitutional Rights Condemns Mass Killing, Collective Punishment of Palestinian Civilians in Gaza

July 16, 2014 – In response to Israel’s ongoing bombardement of Gaza, the Center for…

Chilean Court Confirms U.S. Role in 1973 Killings of Americans in Chilean Coup

July 1, 2014, New York – In response to a ruling yesterday by a Chilean…

Related Resources

SNAP v. the Pope, et al

Print Friendly and PDF

Synopsis

 

Ongoing revelations of pervasive and serious sexual violence against children and vulnerable adults by priests and others associated with the Catholic Church in different parts of the world  have demonstrated that the crisis is not one of isolated random sexual assaults by errant priests but is widespread and systemic. In the wake of scandals around the world, experts and investigators have identified policies and practices of the Vatican and high-level officials of the Catholic Church that have enabled the sexual violence. Some observers have estimated that the number of victims of sexual violence by priests and clergy occurring over the past three decades is in the hundreds of thousands, particularly as more survivors come forward and civil authorities begin investigations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

CCR represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in filings before the International Criminal Court and the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee Against Torture.

 

UN Committee Against Torture

On April 11, 2014, CCR and SNAP submitted a shadow report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, and on April 18, 2014, submitted a supplemental report that focuses largely on Latin America. The Vatican  appeared before the Committee Against Torture on May 5-6, 2014, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee issued its Concluding Observations on May 23, 2014.

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

On February 28, 2013, SNAP and CCR submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Fighting for the Future: Adult Survivors Work to Protect Children and End the Culture of Clergy Sexual Abuse," ahead of the Holy See appearing before the Committee to address its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

International Criminal Court

On September 13, 2011, a survivor-led support group for clergy sex abuse victims formally urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to investigate the Vatican for crimes against humanity. Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, together with their attorneys from the human rights organization the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), filed a lengthy and detailed complaint charging that Vatican officials tolerate and enable the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and other forms of sexual violence around the world. Together with the complaint, they submitted more than 22,000 pages of supporting materials consisting of reports, policy papers, and evidence of the crimes by Catholic clergy committed against children and vulnerable adults.

The complaint requests the  investigation and prosecution of high-level Vatican officials alleging they are criminally responsible under the concept of superior responsibility as well as for their individual roles in aiding and abetting these crimes, as outlined by the Rome Statute of the  ICC. Together with the complaint, more than 22,000 pages of supporting evidence consisting of testimonies, police reports, findings of commissions of inquiry and grand juries, and other evidence of the crimes were submitted.

The  persons identified in the complaint as bearing the greatest responsibility for the systemic sexual violence in the church are: 
 
Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, both in his capacity as Pontiff (2005  - 2013),  and formerly as Cardinal,  Prefect (head) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) (1981 - 2005), the entity tasked with managing allegations of sexual assault by priests. 
 
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals (2006  - present), having replaced Ratzinger upon his appointment as Pope; formerly served  as the Vatican’s Secretary of State
(1990 – 2006).
 
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, as Sodano’s successor as Vatican Secretary of State (2006 – present), and who also serves  as the Camerlengo (2007 – present). In his previous position, he served as  Secretary of the  CDF under Joseph Ratzinger
(1995 – 2002). 
  
Cardinal William Levada, as Prefect for the CDF (2005  – 2012), and in his prior positions as Archbishop of Portland, OR (1986 – 1999), Archbishop of San Francisco (1995 – 2005), and  in other official positions at the CDF (serving part of his time under Ratzinger).

Status

 

UN Committee Against Torture

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

On November 25, 2013 the Vatican submitted its response to the Committee's questions on its adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

International Criminal Court

CCR filed a supplemental communication with the ICC prosecutor on April 11, 2012, along with several thousand more pages of documentation.

CCR filed a supplemental communication with the ICC prosecutor on April 11, 2012, along with several thousand more pages of documentation. In May 2013, the Prosecutor’s office indicated it would not be seeking authority to open an full investigation at this time, but indicated it would reconsider that decision upon new information or evidence and suggested pursuing remedies in other human rights monitoring bodies.

 

Description

Fact Sheets in English, Français, Deutsch, Italiano, PolskiEspañol

FAQ's in EnglishFrançaisDeutsch, ItalianoPolskiEspañol

Media 


"Human rights lawyers and victims of clergy sexual abuse filed a complaint on Tuesday urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate and prosecute Pope Benedict XVI and three top Vatican officials for crimes against humanity for what they described as abetting and covering up the rape and sexual assault of children by priests." read more
 
"...As the legal successes have piled up, victims groups and their lawyers have worked their way up the hierarchy, turning their attention from the priests who committed the abuse to bishops they accuse of covering for them, then up the Vatican hierarchy they allege put in place a system that enabled their abusers, and finally to the Pope himself." read more

 
"A group representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests is asking the International Criminal Court to investigate Pope Benedict XVI and three senior cardinals for alleged crimes against humanity." read more

 
"Victims of sexual abuse by the clergy want the International Criminal Court to investigate Pope Benedict and three Vatican officials, accusing them of allowing the rape and abuse of children." read more

Multi-Media

View conversation about the case made possible by the Culture Project between Gabriel Byrne, actor and playwright Mannix Flynn, SNAP leader Mary Caplan and attorneys Pam Spees and Vince Warren here

 

Timeline

May  19, 2011, SNAP and CCR sent a preliminary communication to the ICC Prosecutor.

September 13, 2011, SNAP and CCR filed complaint  with ICC Prosecutor.

April 11, 2012, SNAP and CCR filed a supplemental communication  with ICC Prosecutor.

February 28, 2013, SNAP and CCR submitted "Fighting for the Future: Adult Survivors Work to Protect Children and End the Culture of Clergy Sexual Abuse," with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

July 1, 2013 The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child formally questioned the Vatican on its record with regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

November 25, 2013 Vatican submitted its responses to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

May 23, 2014 Committee Against Torture issued its report.

CCR Advocacy

Pam Spees, In the Case Against Vatican Officials for Rape and Sexual Violence, We've Come to the End, of the Beginning (September 2011)

Pam Spees, New Maciel Revelations on Heels of Papal Visit to Mexico (March 2012)

Groups Condemn Appointment of Archbishop Dolan to Cardinal of New York (February 2012)

 

Allies

Bishop Accountability

Snap Wisconsin

Attached Files