Appeal Filed With Court of The Hague Against Pope

Victims of paedophile priests have filed an appeal in The Hague against the Pope's "guilty of crimes against humanity".

A group of associations of victims of paedophile priests (SNAP) and the Centre for Constitutional Rights have filed an appeal to the International Criminal Court that accuses Benedict XVI and three cardinals of covering up crimes committed by clergy against children.

The Vatican, the report said, "has always resisted the idea of being subject to the laws of other governmental authorities, whether national, international or local laws." The heads of the Catholic Church are therefore directly called to answer.

But the message sent by the Holy See read "no comment". The move was made to prevent controversy. From the meeting of the Community of Sant' Egidio in Munich, the archbishop of Naples, Crescenzio Sepe, dismissed the matter as "the usual anti-Catholic attacks."

Why Ratzinger, Bertone, Sodano and Levada? To some extent, in the report submitted by the associations, leverage was made on their objective responsibility for the role they held or hold, sustaining that all three, starting with Joseph Ratzinger, encouraged policies and strategies bent on covering up cases of child abuse, thereby obstructing justice; apparently they contributed to creating a climate of silence; favouring the transfer of paedophile priests and protecting perpetrators.

"Crimes committed against tens of thousands of victims, mostly children, were concealed by very high-ranking Vatican officials," says Pamela Spees. SNAP estimated that "20 thousand priests have committed abuses and are still in office."

These are very serious accusations. Regardless of whether they are true or not, it remains to be seen whether The Hague has the jurisdiction to handle the appeal. The Court, whose Statute came into force on July 1, 2002, has jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity, genocide, crimes of aggression committed in one of the 117 States that have signed the Statute or those who reside therein. It can only intervene in cases where one of these states cannot or is not willing to proceed according to internal or international laws.

The Holy See is not among the countries in Europe that signed the founding treaty in Rome.  The United States signed but did not ratify the treaty.

The action is defined by its promoters as a "historic step" to protect "all innocent children and vulnerable adults," a sensational initiative which "for the rapes and other sexual violence committed in the world" requires "the direct and higher responsibility of the Pope and his closest assistants: Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the forerunner and dean of the Sacred College, Angelo Sodano and the prefect of the former Holy Office, William Levada."

Victims of paedophile priests are trying to drag the top of the Vatican pyramid to The Hague on five events brought to the attention of the court with a request to open a formal investigation in cases that occurred in the Congo and the United States and committed by prelates from Belgium, India and the U.S.

The document put together by American Associations (eighty pages signed by Pam Spees, a lawyer responsible for the Centre for Constitutional Rights) takes into consideration the most egregious cases of abuse, reviewing the situation in Canada, U.S., Ireland, Belgium, Germany; talks of the Church’s "refusal to cooperate with civil authorities;" examines the "priest shifting" phenomenon, the transfer, decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, "of clergy responsible for abuses elsewhere, where they could still have access to children and vulnerable adults, thus continuing to commit abuses."

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