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

Documents Prove the Diocese of Knoxville Lied to the Public about Cases of Clergy Abuse

Once again, church officials have claimed to be open and honest in cases of clergy abuse. Once again, it is journalists and secular advocates who have shown that claim to be false.

Archdiocese of Anchorage Releases Report into Abusive Clergy

The Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska, has released the names of 14 clergy who have been “credibly” accused of abuse. Of those names, four are new names that have not been previously disclosed. But like almost all lists released by Catholic officials, as opposed to secular law enforcement, it is still lacking in completeness and transparency.

On the Importance of Hotlines and Public Updates for Clergy Abuse Investigations

Teacher and Coach Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

A coach at a Catholic school within the Archdiocese of San Francisco has been arrested for possessing child pornography. We call on school officials to work to identify any possible victims among their student or alumni population and for church officials within the Archdiocese of San Francisco to do outreach.

Montana Supreme Court Decides to Protect Church Officials over Children in Ruling for Jehovah’s Witnesses

In a blow to child protection efforts everywhere, the highest court in Montana today reversed a decision that held church officials from the Jehovah’s Witnesses responsible for failing to report child abuse to the authorities. We are dismayed by this ruling and hope that legislators in Montana will respond by passing new legislation eliminating the clergy-penitent privilege that allowed this case to be overturned in the first place.

Lawsuit Forcing Diocese of Pittsburgh to Release Documents Can Move Forward, Judge Says

A lawsuit that would force a Pennsylvania diocese to release all its records related to sexual abuse of children can move forward, a judge has ruled. We applaud this ruling and the precedent it sets and hope that others across the country will force their own dioceses to release records to the public as well.

Former Cardinal Laicized for Abuse Now Living Near School & Camp

A disgraced former Cardinal has left Kansas and moved to a new facility in Florida that is near a school and on a property that doubles as a summer camp. The proximity that this abuser now has to children is disturbing and we call on Catholic officials to publicize his presence to the community so that parishioners and the public are better able to protect children and the vulnerable.

SNAP Supports LDS Church Leaders who were Sued for Reporting Abuse

A bizarre lawsuit has been filed against church officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but in this case it is the church officials who did the right thing. We hope this lawsuit fails.

SNAP Responds to Bloomberg Report on How Church Officials Abuse Bankruptcy Courts to Keep Clergy Abuse Hidden

A new report by Bloomberg Businessweek has put into plain view the way that Catholic officials abuse bankruptcy court in order to hold tightly to both their secrets and their money, at the expense of survivors and the protection of children. We hope this report will demonstrate to parishioners how their money is being used and will cause more people to examine how they donate to and support their church.

Hundreds of SBC Churches Served with Subpoenas, SNAP Applauds the Move

Hundreds of Southern Baptist Convention churches have been subpoenaed in a new lawsuit, a good step forward that will lead to more openness and transparency about how cases of sexual violence are treated by church leaders. We applaud this move and look forward to the results.

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