A group representing church sex abuse victims is asking the International Criminal Court to investigate Roman Catholic leaders, including Pope Benedict, for alleged crimes against humanity.
Officials with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests submitted more than 20,000 pages of material to the Hague court Tuesday. They charge the pope and other top church officials helped cover up incidents of sex abuse and violence against children and protected guilty priests.
The attorneys say the treaty setting up the International Criminal Court lists rape, sexual violence, and torture as crimes against humanity.
The Vatican’s U.S. lawyer said that the lawsuit is a ludicrous publicity stunt and the chances of the court prosecuting church leaders are small.
Vatican officials have repeatedly apologized for sex abuse by priests and reaffirmed church policy forbidding such behavior. Some local churches have paid victims millions of dollars in settlements.
A group representing victims of sexual abuse by priests says it is suing Pope Benedict and other top Vatican officials through the International Criminal Court [ICC] in The Hague for crimes against humanity.
Victims from countries around the world, including the United States, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands, have come forward with reports of abuse by priests. Many victims accompanied the human rights lawyers to The Hague to urge prosecutors to investigate.
Reports of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy began surfacing about nine years ago in the United States and later in Europe. Victims say the church paid little attention to decades of priests’ sexual and physical abuse of children, and tried to protect the guilty.