SNAP Legal Action

The landing page for all information related to the SNAP and CCR filing in the International Criminal Court which names Pope Benedict and other church officials in a lawsuit alleging systemic human rights violations. Here you will find important documents and fact sheets, and will also be able to show your support for abuse survivors.

Welcome to the landing page for all things related to the SNAP and CCR lawsuit filed against Vatican officials and Pope Benedict for human rights violations. Below you will find informative documents and links to other important websites.

SNAP and CCR file supplemental evidence on April 11, 2012

  • Read the supplemental filing here

Editorials by SNAP Leadership on the ICC filing:

  • Op-ed by David Clohessy, SNAP Director, in the Star-Tribune: Read it here.
  • Op-ed by Barbara Blaine, SNAP President. in the Guardian: Read it here.

Documents, News, and Fact Sheets:

  1. Press release
  2. Press advisory for DC and NYC
  3. Facts of the case
  4. Complete text of the filing communication to the ICC
  5. Statements by SNAP Leaders
  6. Biographies of SNAP and CCR members involved
  7. List of cities on the Europe tour and times of events
  8. ICC Letter from Prosecution 
  9. "Abuse Victims ask Court to Prosecute the Vatican"- New York Times
  10. "Hague Court Declines Inquiry into Church Abuse Cover-up"- New York Times

Links for more information:

What experts on law and religion are saying:

  • "The legal situation is not yet clear," but that the dossier submitted "re-opens the question over a cover-up in the 1980s and 1990s. The problem remains that the Vatican has not opened its archives and has not even launched an international investigation into its dioceses around the world." - Marco Politi, Vatican Expert and commentator for Il Fatto Quotidiano. Taken from the Montreal Gazette. 
  • "It is a very slim avenue, but it's an avenue nonetheless," - Lorraine Smith, International Bar Association. Taken from Reuters. 
  • "You get a great deal of publicity," "And you put new pressure on the national courts, letting them know that if they don't prosecute there are alternatives." - William Burke White, Deputy Dean and Professer of Law at UPenn. Taken from the Bellingham Herald.
  •  "At least since 2001-2002, [Pope Benedict] has at least had primary responsibility for these cases," "It's unlikely that the court will take this up, but they won't be able to dismiss it easily. They may have to open up a preliminary investigation." - Laurie Goodstein, Religion correspondent for the New York Times. Taken from PRI.
  • "Jurisdiction is a hurdle. "The court has handled war crimes, but the argument can be made that the abuse of children is as tragic and heinous as anything. It's a crime against humanity." - Mike Pfau, Seattle attorney. Taken from the Seattle Times.
  • The complaint to the ICC "suddenly reframes the issue in the public consciousness." - Tim Kosnoff, Seattle attorney. Taken from the Seattle Times.
  • "The ICC filing marks the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and Vatican accountable in an international court for sexual abuse by priests." - Nathan Koppel, WSJ contributor. Taken from the Wall Street Journal.
  • "The Holy See is a sovereign, which like all other sovereigns, must be accountable for violations of human rights.  SNAP's action under the ICC is timely and appropriate.  If successful, it will secure more protection for children not just against the Holy See, but all sovereigns." - Marci A. Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Yeshiva University


Media Statements

More Names Released in Arizona, but not by Church Officials

Today, the names of more abusive clergy who worked and lived in Arizona will be revealed at a press conference. We are grateful to Jeff Anderson and his team for getting this important information out to the public. At the same time, we are disappointed that this transparency did not come from church officials themselves.

SNAP Calls for Transparency from Church Officials in Fargo, ND

For Second Time, Cardinal Dolan Keeps Accused Priest on the Job

A New York City priest is still on the job even though seven men say he molested them. This kind of inaction only further endangers children and vulnerable adults and we call on Vatican officials to punish and demote him.

SNAP Supports Action taken by Bishop Joseph Bambera in Scranton

We are grateful that Scranton's bishop is sticking by his guns and banning his disgraced predecessor from public ministry. By keeping Bishop Emeritus James C. Timlin away from the public during the past weekend of confirmation ceremonies in Scranton, Bishop Joseph Bambera is taking a small step on behalf of the wounded survivors and betrayed Catholics in his diocese.

Prominent Baptist Sued for Mistreating Victim

A brave woman is suing the former head of a Baptist seminary for trying to intimidate her when she reported being raped. We applaud her courage and hope others with information or suspicions about the minister come forward.

Another Priest Suspended in the Archdiocese of Detroit

Another Detroit priest is accused of child sexual abuse. We call on officials at the Archdiocese of Detroit to do more than the bare minimum in their outreach.

New SNAP Chapter Launched in Aotearoa-New Zealand

The Aotearoa-New Zealand chapter is founded by Dr Christopher Longhurst, a survivor of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and brothers at two Catholic schools in New Zealand in the 1980s. Chris recently discovered that others abused by priests and religious started support groups within the SNAP network, and this grew worldwide. Chris is now the peer-support facilitator for the Aotearoa-New Zealand SNAP chapter.

Two Buffalo Priests Reassigned Despite Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

Churches ask congregants to “sign away” their legal rights

Church members are prohibited from suing church officials, according to contracts that some large Protestant churches are asking congregants to sign. These contracts – often called ‘covenants’ – are dangerous documents that will make it even harder to expose church staff who commit or conceal crimes like sexual abuse.

Diocese of Greensburg Hides Second Accusation Against Msgr. Michael Matusak

A Pennsylvania bishop has reportedly kept hidden a second abuse report against one of his priests. We call on the prelate to learn from this serious mistake, and to aggressively seek out other victims who may still be suffering in shame and self-blame.

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