Abuse Victims Petition International Court

Victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, a U.S.-based organization for abuse survivors and a U.S.-based human rights organization formally asked the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate Pope Benedict XVI and other top Vatican officials. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and their attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based organization, presented their petition to the court on Sept. 13. They allege that “Vatican officials tolerate and enable the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and child sex crimes throughout the world.” The petition claims the church leaders who bear “the greatest responsibility” for such cases of abuse are Pope Benedict; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state and former secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Cardinal William J. Levada, current prefect of the congregation. The parties filing the petition said, “This could be the first time that an international court asserts jurisdiction over the Vatican for crimes committed by its agents worldwide.”

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