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December 16, 2011, New York – In light of a report released today by an official commission investigating clergy sex abuse throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

The extent of child rape and other sexual violence revealed in the commission’s report – as many as 20,000 Dutch children in Catholic institutions – is yet another example of the widespread and systematic nature of the problem of child sex crimes in the Catholic Church.  If similar commissions were held in every country, we would undoubtedly be equally appalled by the rates of abuse.  But, for every country in which such a commission is held, there are dozens of places in which there is no such investigation, no efforts at accountability, and no meaningful recourse for those who are abused.  Moreover, the apologies offered by Dutch bishops are little help to past and future victims if those apologies do not materialize into concrete measures to stop the problem. Instead, as the Dutch commission noted, and as we have seen time and again, the goals of Church leaders including Pope Benedict XVI and other high-level Vatican officials are not to protect children and prevent abuse, but to cover up the sexual violence and avoid scandals.  This is precisely why an international response to these crimes, such as CCR’s work with SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Vatican officials for crimes against humanity is critical.  Piecemeal investigations and prosecutions simply cannot solve a systematic problem that is actively tolerated and enabled at the highest levels of Church leadership.  As the New York Times noted today, CCR and SNAP’s ICC case is ‘the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and the Vatican accountable’ for rape and other sexual violence.  

The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lengthy and detailed complaint with the International Criminal Court September 13, 2011, on behalf SNAP, a survivor-led support group for clergy sex abuse victims, urging the prosecutor to investigate the Vatican for crimes against humanity for tolerating and enabling the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and sexual violence throughout the world.  Together with the complaint, they submitted 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 by Catholic clergy committed against children and vulnerable adults.

To learn more about the case, visit

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit and follow @theCCR.

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Comment Preferences

  •  By "international response" I assume (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    you mean International Criminal Court prosecution (or investigation).

    The ICC has jurisdiction only over genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.  It would be quite a stretch to make sex abuse fit into that jurisdiction.

    Secondly, the ICC can exercise it's jurisdiction only in cases where national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute.

    It seems to me that the CCR is attempting multiple stretches here.  What it really wants is to prosecute the Vatican, rather than the sex abusers.  To hold one person or entity criminally responsible for the actions of another is always difficult.  Here, it would serve no purpose, it seems, except to embarrass the church.

    •  when you become informed about this issue, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      come back.  Instead of pontificating about abstract theories; legal and otherwise; learn more about what is happening and has happened to ruin the lives of thousands!  You argue against attempting to hold the Vatican responsible for the behavior of its employees.  If this is new legal ground, you think it shouldn't be tried?

      God forbid anyone who seeks justice should

      Here, it would serve no purpose, it seems, except to embarrass the church.

      Are you OD?  You sure talk like one or on their payroll.  Go back to CL and work on smearing SNAP.  Because we wouldn't want the "Church" to be embarrassed, would we?

      "these are not the droids you are looking for...."

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 01:27:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think that says it all.

        I am not a Catholic. I have personal knowledge of the destruction sex abuse wreaks in lives, lasting many years.  But I also believe in two principles:  

        One, the abusers should be the ones held responsible (and the church should hold them responsible, as well as the courts).

        Two, legal process should never be abused.  The ICC clearly has no jurisdiction and there is no need to try to force jurisdiction, because local courts have the ability to hold the abusers responsible.

        And I don't think the CCR should be held responsible for your rude response any more than I think the Vatican should be held responsible for an individual's abuse of his power.

        •  'individual's abuse of his power.' (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SeaTurtle, ExStr8, kait, doingbusinessas

          How many individuals in the catholic church have abused their power? How many 'individual abuses of power' does it take for you to see a pattern?
          It happened everywhere there is a catholic church, going on for decades and decades. You cannot tell me the Vatican was not aware of this. It looks to me they are the ones who made it possible to continue for decades. They should be called out on it and held to account.

          El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

          by mint julep on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 03:04:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I repeat, your ignorance is blistering (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          as is your arrogance.   You don't know how much you don't know.

          You are conveniently repeating the lies which the Vatican wants the world to believe.  The 'bad apple' lie.  "How could we have known, the individual bad priest is to blame?"  Keep on with defending the Vatican, AZD.  

          You airly assert:

          and the church should hold them responsible, as well as the courts).
          .... have you been paying attention AT ALL?  That the friggin problem.  The g-d damn Xch has placed itself ABOVE THE LAW and is refusing to take responsibility at all.  It has hidden and shielded many many perps from the law.  Is that 'holding them responsible'?

          Removing Cardinal Law of Boston to a safe berth in the Vatican was 'holding them responsible'?  DENIAL of knowledge by the Vatican of the problem of pedophile priests and sexual abusers WHILE at the same time writing about this problem in internal memoranda; is that behaving responsibly?  Bringing political pressure to bear to drown out the voices of the abused (in the recent Finn case,) by Vatican driven filth like Bill Donohue; is that holding them responsible?

          There is a concerted, planned, conscious, corporate cover up of crimes by the Vatican.... their first priority is to protect their coffers and their political clout.

          Thank you also for your legal judgement that

          Two, legal process should never be abused. The ICC clearly has no jurisdiction and there is no need to try to force jurisdiction, because local courts have the ability to hold the abusers responsible.
           But its ok that men, women, and children are abused by the Church?

          Yeah, this phony 2nd argument is based on assuming that your first point is correct.  Your first point is blatantly wrong.  Ergo, your second point falls flat on its face.  As do you.

          This is a corporate crime in which individual members of the Xch were protected, transferred, and hidden from the law by their employing corporation with full knowledge.  The Vatican's hands are red.

          The sexual abuse of the church is a great crime against humanity and needs to be judged as such.  

          And you lecture me on manners!  

          I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

          by SeaTurtle on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 03:34:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for the work of your org and for posting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, ExStr8

    I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

    by SeaTurtle on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 01:19:46 PM PST

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