American associations of paedophilia victims have submitted a dossier to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. “The Pope and the Curia’s top dogs have covered up the rape of children all across the world.” The Holy See has refused to comment.
by Alessandro Speciale
The biggest association of paedophilia victims who have suffered at the hands of members of the Catholic Church has asked the International Criminal Court to try Benedict XVI and the heads of the Roman Curia, for “crimes against humanity.”
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, presented an 80 page long document to the ICC at The Hague, to show how the Vatican allegedly “tolerated and made possible the systematic and widespread cover up of rapes and sexual crimes against children across the world.”
SNAP, together with the American NGO Center for Constitutional Rights, has asked the ICC for a “declaration of judicial jurisdiction.” In practice, this means, the Court should declare itself authorized to deal with the case, in the light of the proof that "legal action taken on a national level, was not sufficient in preventing the abuse against minors from continuing.”
It is now up to the ICC’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, to decide whether to accept the appeal or not. SNAP hopes that The Hague’s ICC will at least decide to open a preliminary investigation to see whether the case in under their jurisdiction.
The International Criminal Court, an organisation that is independent from the UN, has been operative since July 2002 and according to its constituent treaty, it is called to judge individuals assumed responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide. It can act in cases where a Country’s criminal system is unable to deal with a case, or when it receives a mandate from the Security Council at the United Nations Headquarters, as happened in the case of Muammar Gheddafi and the leaders of the Libyan regime.
The Holy See is not among the 117 Countries that signed the Treaty of Rome which created the Court.
Besides Pope Benedict XVI, who was also mentioned for his previous role as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the victims of abuse have also pointed the finger at the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano and the current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada.
For now, the Holy See is refusing to comment on the initiative, but the Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, who is currently in Munich, participating in the interreligious meeting for peace convened by the Community of Sant’Egidio, branded the appeal as “the usual anti – Catholic attempt to cast a shadow over our image which, in human terms, is our greatest asset in the society in which we live.”
Besides SNAP, the case is also being presented by five individual victims, whose stories, according to the organisation’s press release, show the “global effect” of the abuse crisis. Among them is an adolescent from Minessota who was apparently repeatedly “raped” by an Indian priest since 2004, and a 44 year old Congolese man who was allegedly abused between the ages of 12 and 16, by a Belgian missionary.
In both cases, the Holy See apparently did not collaborate in international investigations and the two priests allegedly still have contact with minors in their ministry.
SNAP’s President, Barbara Blaine, declared, “We have taken this historic initiative today for a very simple reason: to protect innocent children and vulnerable adults. We believe there to be hundreds of children throughout the world who have fallen victim to violence by priests, nuns, bishops and Catholic seminarians. This violence is widespread and has been systematically covered up for decades now, by heads of the Catholic Church and an insensitive, reticent, rigid and powerful hierarchy.”
To gather support for their initiative, SNAP’s American and European representatives have launched a European tour, due to take place over the next few days, during which they will pass through all the Continent’s major capitals. They will be reaching Rome on 20 September.