Child abuse victims accuse pope of crimes against humanity


VATICAN CITY–An international group for victims of sexual abuse by priests said Tuesday it had asked the International Criminal Court to prosecute Pope Benedict XVI for crimes against humanity.

The Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said it had filed the complaint with the ICC with help from lawyers from the non-profit US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).

They called on the court to “take action and prosecute the Pope and three other high-ranking Vatican officials for their direct and superior responsibility for the crimes against humanity of rape and other sexual violence committed around the world.”

“Crimes against tens of thousands of victims, most of them children, are being covered up by officials at the highest level of the Vatican,” CCR lawyer Pam Spees said in a statement.

“In this case, all roads really do lead to Rome,” she added.

As well as the pope, SNAP asked that three other top Vatican officials be investigated: Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, his predecessor Angelo Sodano and US Cardinal William Levada.

Levada is head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican office designated to investigate sex abuse cases forwarded to it by bishops.

“The Vatican officials charged in this case are responsible for rape and other sexual violence and for the physical and psychological torture of victims around the world both through command responsibility and through direct coverup of crimes,” Spees said.

“They should be brought to trial like any other officials guilty of crimes against humanity,” she added.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi refused to comment.

Some international law experts suggested the case might not go very far.

Normally, the ICC prosecutor only investigates complaints if asked to do so by the United Nations Security Council; by a state that has ratified the Rome Statute; or on his own initiative.

But the CCR said in its statement that “the jurisdiction of the ICC names rape, sexual violence assault, and torture as crimes against humanity.

“It also provides for individual criminal liability for those with command or superior responsibility over those who directly commit such crimes.”

On this basis, members from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States had travelled to The Hague to urge prosecutors to investigate the head of the Roman Catholic Church, it said.

The US-based victims network said it had submitted more than 20,000 pages of supporting material.

Megan Peterson, a 21-year-old SNAP member who spoke publicly of her abuse for the first time last week, was among those backing the initiative.

Describing her ordeal, she recalled: “When at age 15 I called the diocese to report the rapes they hung up on me.”

She called on the ICC to “take this case seriously and do the right thing.

“I don’t want any more kids to go through what I went through,” she said.

But Herman van der Wilt, professor of international law at Amsterdam University, told AFP he did not think the complaint stood much chance before the ICC.

“Firstly, a prerequisite for crimes against humanity is that it has to be perpetrated by a State, or ‘state-like’ organization,” he said.

“And secondly because the ICC would not be able to investigate any crimes committed before July 1, 2002, when its mandate commenced according to its founding statute,” he added.

The Roman Catholic Church is struggling to deal with rising anger and a string of lawsuits following thousands of child abuse claims in Europe and the United States.

The latest major crisis came in July, when the Irish Prime Minister launched a ferocious attack on the Roman Catholic Church’s “absolutely disgraceful” failure to deal with years of sexual abuse of children by priests.

Pope Benedict has expressed shame and sorrow over the clerical sex scandal and has called on bishops around the world to come up with common guidelines against paedophiles by May 2012.

But the issue shows no sign of going away.

On Tuesday an Australian senator, Nick Xenophon, named a Catholic priest who allegedly raped a teenage boy in assaults dating back about 50 years, after the Church refused his demand that they withdraw him from his post.

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  • antonioluna

    we can see as a whole that catholic church around the world refuse to address this issue, silence is all they can do.

  • arez caliente

    the church is not silent around the world, and the basic problem here is that it is the priest who are doing wrong things, not the church, and that what the congregation whats before is that they are asking the bishops to follow the canon law, because this is what rule their lives as a church, and the church right now are seeing that there are mistakes in it, that is why pontiff is calling a synod to study how to make sure this never happen again, and that the main problem here is that it is the church that is why they are many attacking it, it is sad, they made mistakes, and that the priest should be punish, not the pontiff. And that they are less than a hundred priests that are charged, yet there are hundred of thousands priest in the world. And the leaders are people, not saint, that is why there are even popes whom made big mistakes, but the church is different. But one thing I hate is that people looks at the church rather than the 2000 years of existence is equated by this clergy abuse scandal. the church is doing what they can do most, and the scandal is has lessened through the years.

    • Ruben

      It’s not surprising that more and more Catholics are leaving the church and joining other groups.

      • antonioluna

        i’m not in favor of leaving the catholic church just because it has flaws, catholic church should evolve and rectify its mistakes, as for now it makes me sick when they just turn their heads on these issues. there is no perfect system that is why it is good to listen to negative feedback in order to correct the error. this religion could be bad but another religion could be also worst, at least this religion doesn’t influence its followers to have a block voting during elections, block voting is not for free man, each individual should have his/her own choice.there is also a religion that will easily condemn you because you err without knowing why you did it. catholic church wants us to be blind in one thing but another religion makes us also blind in another thing,the result is the same only in a different angle.
        bringing the accused priests into court is so important that they can defend themselves, there is always a chance of frame up just to get money, in court an accused priest has all the chance to clear himself. as i always said, history repeats itself, sad part is if we don’t learn from it.

    • antonioluna

      people like you keep on saying its not the church, these rapist priests/child molesters they are under the church, they are under this spiritual institution and this institution refuse, always refuse to face this kind of issue, in this age somehow this institution is force to face the reality because the news of wrong doings has spread/known to the world, given we still don’t have the power of technology they will deny everything. the fact that this institution failed to rectify the past, the tragic outcome of inquisition, this institution is adamant in acknowledging their mistakes in the past, today and could be in the future.

    • Anonymous

      What people are angry at is the active cover-up of the RCC officials of these wrong-doings. This presents 2 problems:
      1. It gives people the impression that the RCC doesn’t care about its flock and would rather take care of its own like a mafia.
      2. It encourages some clergymen to commit more sexual abuses – since they figure the RCC will help them cover it up.

      Take the case of Fr. Cabonce which was in the news last month – alleged rapist of a 17 year old girl. Why did Bishop SUV gave him refuge when he should have been treated just like any other ordinary citizen?

      • antonioluna

        i agree with you bro, everytime there is an issue most fanatics will consider it as an attack but no, it is actually a service because it is an opportunity to cleanse their rank, to purify the unpure.

  • Ruben

    That’s where our donations go…settlement of the priests’ sex crimes.

  • shane oy

    If you are not happy as a Catholic, you are always free to leave. We will see the truth ultimately about this things in the days to come. 

  • Anonymous

    If SNAP or CCR have evidence or basis according to law, what is stopping them from filing a suit in the US or any of the countries in Europe?  Certainly, the courts in those countries are anything but sympathetic to the Catholic Church.

    I and the rest of the Catholic faithful will be very happy and will even thank them if they can jail all these errant priests and bishops.

    And if they want to sue the Pope, why not?  Its their choice.  Why should we be bothered with suits that have no basis.

    • big dawg

      yeah right, with billions of dollars in Catholics hand, they’re influence transcends our imaginations. if the INCs are influential in the PR, Catholics are more influential globally

    • Anonymous

      Curious – why do you think the suits have no basis?

      • Anonymous

        For the same reason why the relatives of the chinese tourist killed in Luneta cannot sue PNoy

  • Anonymous

    Remember what the Catholic church here claimed few weeks ago, they only answer to the Pope. So I think it is right that they prosecute the reigning Pope. Their office inaction for years praying these issues will go away is not acceptable in today’s society anymore. Now, here in the Philippines, I would like to call all the victims of these white wearing wolves, this is the right time to come out and be not afraid, justice is not so far away and it will come. They cannot hide anymore from the words of the Bible, being an agent of God as they claim do not give them blanket authority, the kind of tyrannical authority that they have during the medieval era.

  • Marlon

    the Catholic Church is not the one under attack here.

    it is the heirarchy of the Church which is the target of these lawsuits because, by commission or omission, they had a hand in the cover-up of these abusive priests. instead of exposing them and delivering them to the authorities, these minority black sheep clergy were just re-assigned to other parishes only to repeat their evil deeds there.

    sad to say, the standard operating procedure of the Catholic heirarchy is to sweep these issues under the rug hoping that it will just go away. but, like ghosts of the past, they will always come back to haunt you. 

    the Catholic Church has been through far worse issues than this through the centuries but was never destroyed mainly because it is the Church (the followers) along with enlightened clergy that had willed it to survive through faith in God and not in “men of God”. 

    the lawsuits should be welcomed as yet another period of cleansing for the Catholic Church heirarchy to get rid of its morally questionable practice of covering up clergy crimes and to start acknowledging that, like all imperfect humans, men of the cloth who have sinned should be exposed and punished.

    in doing so, the Catholic Church becomes a stronger institution. as a Catholic, i look forward to that.

  • Anonymous

    ·                                 Davao City, 1991. : Fr. Rex Mansmann, an American priest in his mid-fifties who heads the Sta. Cruz Mission in Lake Sebu, was accused of raping a 13-year old T’boli42 girl.43 The wife of the town’s mayor defended the priest saying that the accusations were unfounded.
    ·                                 Tacloban City, 1993. : Deportation proceedings were filed against an American Catholic missionary worker with the Perpetual Mother Congregation based in Naval, Biliran. Brother Steve Michael Greinte, 38, who headed this congregation, faced a criminal case for acts of lasciviousness against a 19-year old Filipino boy. Under covert surveillance by authorities, several photos were taken of Greinte having oral sex with other teenage members of the Congregation on the beach of Naval.44
    ·                                 May 2002: A woman sought child support from Fr. Nicanor Sta. Maria, who once served as principal of the Don Bosco High School in Makati City. She said she had a relationship lasting close to five years with Sta. Maria while she was working as his secretary.45

  • Anonymous

    ·                                 June 2002: A soldier accused Fr. Eleuterio Carton, parish priest of Tigbauan, Iloilo, of sexually harassing him in 1996 when he was only 17. The soldier executed an affidavit addressed to Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo. His mother also issued a separate affidavit in support of her son’s accusations against the priest. Carton denied the allegations, saying he did not even know the soldier. On 4 October, Carton hit back at his accusers by suing them for libel and perjury.46
    ·                                 July 2002: Florida officials issued a warrant for the arrest of Fr. Polienato Bernabe, 61, a native of Pangasinan, who had been charged with sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl more than two decades ago in Gulfport, Florida. Under Florida laws, if convicted, Bernabe could face life in prison. Bernabe, a member of the Archdiocese of Lingayen- Dagupan, was a visiting priest who served at the Holy Name Catholic church in Gulfport and the Holy Family Catholic church in St. Petersburg in the 1970s and 1980s. The victim, Melissa M. Price, said Bernabe began abusing her in late 1978 when she was 8. Price, who allowed newspapers to use her name, told investigators that the abuse, which escalated into sexual intercourse, took place hundreds of times at her mother’s home in Gulfport. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Bernabe took her on a three-week vacation to the Philippines when she was 12. On her 16th birthday, she said, he gave her a used car but later replaced it with a brand new Volkswagen Cabriolet.47

  • Anonymous

    ·                                 In Cebu City, three former altar boys of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and another youngster wrote Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, accusing former basilica rector Fr. Apolinario Mejorada of sexually abusing them between 1995 and 1998.48
    About a week later, Mejorada’s superiors admitted he was involved in some “transgression” and paid Php 120,000 pesos in settlement. Shortly thereafter Fr. Mercurio Montenegro was accused by a 29-year-old man and more than 30 other altar boys of abusing them from 1987 to 1997. Montenegro, the former parish priest of the town of Cordova on Mactan Island, denied the accusation.49
    ·                                 The alleged sexual abuse of Rita Milla by seven priests in 1983 was in the news when she asked Roger Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles to help her find the priest who got her pregnant. The would-be nun earlier said the late Fr. Santiago Tamayo Jr. and six other priests sexually abused her when she was 16 years old. She said the diocese tried to cover up the abuse by arranging for her trip to the Philippines to keep her pregnancy a secret. She delivered the baby at the Ilocos Norte Provincial Hospital. She later returned to the United States.50
    ·                                 A sexual harassment case was filed by three students and an instructor of the Cagayan State University against Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, CSU vice president for academic affairs. Aquino had filed complaints of irregularities, graft and mismanagement against some university officials being investigated by the House committee on good government. On 4 February 2000, the Ombudsman dismissed the sexual harassment charges against Aquino.51


    Christianity is on the decline. People are now 

    • Anonymous

      where did you get your statistics?

      • Silvester Flores

        to warpiglets—-Statistic?—COMMON SENSE and EDUCATIONS—thats ALL

      • Anonymous

        @silvester flores- is there a plural form of the word education? common use your common sense ok. stupid!!

    • Anonymous

      “Christianity is on the decline. People are now”

      ====> Sorry, Catholicism is not Christianity.


    …beginning to realize that Religion is nothing more than an elaborate fairytale used to justify what  was once unexplained

    • Anonymous

      your talking as if you know everything. please don’t act or talk like one. if you dont want christianism your free to join other faith and see and experience for yourself if it is better than the latter.. or you can worship ur own self and make yourself a god coz u think ur smart or brilliant right? there are really lot of stupid people nowadays. great one is one.

  • Silvester Flores

    YES—Catholic PRIEST are HIDING theire CRIMES behind its CHURCH name—-
    Philippine Catholic PRIEST SHOULD be ACCUSED of CREATING the BIGGEST human garbage in the WORLD which is FOUND all OVER the streets of MANILA—-
    ITs TIME for PILIPINO to EXPOSED the RESULTS of Catholics church INFLUENCE in Philippine SOCIETY-

  • Anonymous

    Sane people do not expect clergymen to be saints. But this is why people are angry:

    Pope ‘led cover-up of child abuse by priests’
    London Evening Standard

    The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight.
    In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety.
    The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it.
    And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.
    The Panorama special, Sex Crimes And The Vatican, investigates the details of this little-known document for the first time. The programme also accuses the Catholic Church of knowingly harbouring paedophile clergymen. It reveals that priests accused of child abuse are generally not struck off or arrested but simply moved to another parish, often to reoffend. It gives examples of hush funds being used to silence the victims.
    Before being elected as Pope Benedict XVI in April last year, the pontiff was Cardinal Thomas Ratzinger who had, for 24 years, been the head of the powerful Congregation of the Doctrine of The Faith, the department of the Roman Catholic Church charged with promoting Catholic teachings on
    morals and matters of faith. An arch-Conservative, he was regarded as the ‘enforcer’ of Pope John Paul II in cracking down on liberal challenges to traditional Catholic teachings.
    Five years ago he sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis – Latin for The Crime of Solicitation – which laid down the Vatican’s strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal. It was regarded as so secret that it came with instructions that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times.
    Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced the strict cover-up policy by introducing a new principle: that the Vatican must have what it calls Exclusive Competence. In other words, he commanded that all child abuse
    allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome. Patrick Wall, a former Vatican-approved enforcer of the Crimen Sollicitationis in America, tells the programme: “I found out I wasn’t working for a holy institution, but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself.”
    And Father Tom Doyle, a Vatican lawyer until he was sacked for criticising the church’s handling of child abuse claims, says: “What you have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen.
    “When abusive priests are discovered, the response has been not to investigate and prosecute but to move them from one place to another. So there’s total disregard for the victims and for the fact that you are going to have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. This is happening all over the world.”
    The investigation could not come at a worse time for Pope Benedict, who is desperately trying to mend the Church’s relations with the Muslim world after a speech in which he quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who said that Islam was spread by holy war and had brought only evil to the world.
    The Panorama programme is presented by Colm O’Gorman, who was raped by a priest when he was 14. He said: “What gets me is that it’s the same story every time and every place. Bishops appoint priests who they know have abused children in the past to new parishes and new communities and more abuse happens.”
    Last night Eileen Shearer, director of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults said: “The Catholic Church in England and Wales (has) established a single set of national policies and procedures for child protection work. We are making excellent progress in protecting children and preventing abuse.”

  • mel

    This was said in the Bible…. There will be turmoil within the religion…priest against against brother..and father against the son……and so on..If you have the FAITH in God then you know the right way…….Even Peter denied God 3X…..Humans are weak against temptations around….The husband is womanizing….The wife is busy with amigas and buying material things….the children are with barkadas doing all things…sex…drugs..alcohol……Oh my…..who is true and good this time around? I guess..its only me!

  • Guest

    This is sooo lamentable!

  • Mauro Magistrado

    The root cause of all these sex crimes against some Catholic priests is the imposition by the Church of celibacy and the age-old efforts of the Church to forgive these erring clergies from their sins and re-assigning them only to far-flung places because of continuing lack of Catholic priests not only in the Philippines but all over the world—in effect the Church becomes an unwitting accessory to the crimes committed.  Since unlike in the distant past when the Church had very strong grip and appeal to the people’s belief to love thy enemies and offended people just forgive priests’ misdeeds, time has taught the people world-wide to also ferret out and question the criminal offenses of many priests all over the world.  Therefore, it’s about time for the Vatican to abolish celibacy in priesthood since predominantly Catholic priests of all ranks are males and naturally the need for outlet is a necessity otherwise the pent-up emotions of some weak ones may turn haywire and the offense is committed.  And then it’s about time for the Vatican to be very cooperative with the state by turning over immediately all offending members of the Catholic hierarchy to the proper authorities to avoid unnecessary besmirching of the good, sacred name of the Church. PYRITE 

  • Jiao Takamdemare

    The decline of Roman Catholicism.  Priests no longer inspire the people.  Sermon lang ng sermon about politics.  They no longer uphold the mission of Christianity as a whole but their own personal gains.  They let themselves become corrupted by politicians.  They are deeply rooted in politics.  Its a shame that even those bishops who were given gifts by Gloria were not even sanctioned by the CBCP.  Nawala lang ang issue na parang bula — moot and academic kumbaga.  Hindi reason na sila ay tao lamang na nagkakamali.  Nagkamali sila dapat pinakita ng CBCP na kaya nilang disiplinahin ang mga ito.  Their acts did not conform to the standards of being men of the church.  These so-called shepherds of the flocks should exercise their role in leading them.  Inspire them to be builders of these nation and help the government in its fight against poverty, illiteracy, and corruption.  They should do their part in society.  They should serve the people.

    • Anonymous

      This is the fatal flaw of many religions and any human organization – that when power is concentrated on the hands of a few, the few tends to abuse that power, because power ultimately corrupts. In the case of the Catholic church – it is an organization that demands absolute and unquestioned obedience, without accountability nor transparency. Just like facism, communism and dictatorships – is it a wonder that such things happen? Humans are simply incapable of wielding so much power (and money) without going crazy.

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