VATICAN CITY (RNS) 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.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) president Barbara Blaine is asked to leave St. Peter's square by Vatican security in 2005 prior to the election of Pope Benedict XVI. RNS file photo by Rene Shaw.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) president Barbara Blaine is asked to leave St. Peter’s square by Vatican security in 2005 prior to the election of Pope Benedict XVI. RNS file photo by Rene Shaw.

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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.



  1. This is tantamount to ignoring genocide like that being practiced by President Assad of Syria and that practiced by any other political leaders or movements. It’s no different than ignoring the atrocities committed by the perpetrators of 9/11. How can any institution, like the United Nations, for instance, maintain any respect or have any influence when the crimes of any “nations,” the Catholic Church in this instance, continue to be ignored by the justice systems of all other nations and international groups?

    Now you know why bishops in the United States have been so immune to legal repercussions for their participation in their sex crimes and those of their clergy. Even their continuing cover-ups are considered legitimate. Our children have been offered up as a sacrifice to the clergy. They have no legal defense. Cardinal Bernard Law resides in extradited glory in Rome! And numerous others throughout the world remain “untouchables.” Proves the Catholic Church is still very Italian, right?

  2. David Thompson

    The Vatican is a criminal enterprise and the ICC was paid off for dismissal of the case. The Catholic clergy should require total emasculation. If they are not supposed to use it, then they should not mind losing it.

  3. im sorry but is this a joke? has no one seen the documentary mea maxima culpa? no probably not because the pope resigned (first in over 600 years) 4 days after it was released (coincidence?). the catholic church has been abusing power for decades. they may not be held accountable now but eventually these sex abuse cases will cost them billions of dollars. When the church is bankrupt and the truth finally comes out, people will realize that their ignorance has let multiple criminals run free.

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