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

Diocese of Belleville to Get a New Bishop, SNAP Responds

The Catholic Diocese of Belleville is getting a new bishop following the retirement of their current prelate. We hope that Belleville’s leader elect will usher in a new era of transparency and openness, but we are skeptical that this will actually happen.


Two More Victims Allege Abuse at the Hands of Cardinal George Pell

Two more men have come forward to allege that they were abused by Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic official. This story is a reminder of the challenges that survivors face and is a call-to-action for us to address those challenges in order to create a culture that supports survivors instead of demonizing them when they bring claims forward.


SNAP says ‘thank you’ to Journalist Bob Allen

With 14 years of courageous reporting on Baptist clergy sex abuse and church cover-ups, journalist Bob Allen made a difference in the lives of countless survivors and helped to make church kids throughout the country safer. In response to the announcement of his retirement on March 31, SNAP can only say “thank you.”


SNAP Calls on Diocese of Richmond to Extend Deadline to Register for Compensation Program in Light of Coronavirus

In February, the Diocese of Richmond quietly announced a compensation program for survivors. Their program has an incredibly short registration window, barely lasting two months. Now, in light of coronavirus concerns that have paralyzed a nation, we are calling on Catholic officials in Richmond to extend the deadline for their compensation program and make efforts to ensure that survivors of clergy abuse are aware of the program’s existence.


Diocese of Erie Suspends Compensation Program, SNAP Reacts

One of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses is suspending its compensation program for the next 90 days because of stock market concerns caused by the coronavirus. This is a hurtful and deceitful move that clearly shows that the best pathway for survivors to get justice is through the court system and not church-run programs.


Allegations Against Former Florida Priest Found Credible, SNAP Urges Outreach

Now that allegations against a former priest from the Diocese of St. Augustine have been found credible, church officials must use every tool at their disposal to share the information with their parishioners and do outreach to still-silent victims, encouraging them to come forward and file a complaint with police.


Catholic Church Not Following Own Rules in Dealing with Accused ex-Bishop

Despite much fanfare and applause surrounding Pope Francis’ recent “reforms” to handle cases of abuse or cover-up by bishops, a court-appointed official in Minnesota reports that the Church is not following its own rules in dealing with an accused former Archbishop. We are not surprised by this announcement and believe this is yet another example of why outside, secular investigations are needed in order to police Catholic officials.


Catholic Priest Accused of Abuse Chosen to Fly Above Diocese and Spread Prayers, SNAP Reacts

A Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse in a lawsuit by a young seminarian was recently given the honor of flying in a plane above the Diocese of Camden in order to spread prayers from the air for all those affected by the coronavirus. We can only wonder why, out of all the priests in the Diocese, a man who has been accused of sexual abuse was the one chosen.


Catholic Vicar General in Buffalo Placed on Leave Following Accusations of Abuse

The second highest ranking official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has been placed on leave following accusations of sexual abuse. Given how scandal-ridden the Buffalo area was under former Bishop Richard Malone’s tenure, we are not surprised by this development. Once again, it seems to us that intervention from outside, secular law enforcement is definitely in order


Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Faces Lawsuit for Sexual Harassment: SNAP Reacts


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