By Albert Ruben
Sept. 19, 2011
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger celebrated his Papal inaugural mass in 2005 it’s reasonable to assume he didn’t expect in the course of his reign to be facing charges in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. If the Center for Constitutional Rights prevails, that is precisely what awaits him.
The Center, a human rights organization based in New York, joined with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) to file on Sept. 13, 2011 a lengthy and detailed complaint with the ICC in The Hague that urges the court to investigate the Vatican. The suit cites the Pope and three other leading officials of the church for their roles in sex abuse crimes committed by church functionaries around the world. German, American, Dutch, and Belgian SNAP members journeyed to The Hague to press their suit with the ICC.
Center staff attorney Pam Spees said, “Crimes against tens of thousands of victims, most of them children, are by officials at the highest level of the Vatican.” She added that in this case, “all roads do lead to Rome.”
For more on the history of the Center for Constitutional Rights, see Albert Ruben’s new book The People’s Lawyer: The Center for Constitutional Rights and the Fight for Social Justice, From Civil Rights to Guantánamo. Or, as Amy Goodman put it, “If you want to understand how a progressive organization can survive for decades, take on a hostile government, and remain honest to its values, read this book.”