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

Catholic Priest from Huber Heights Placed on Leave Following Accusations, SNAP Calls for Outreach

A Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, OH, has been placed on leave following “an allegation.” Now we call for Church officials in Cincinnati to be forthcoming with parishioners and the public about the nature of these accusations and to do outreach at each and every parish where the cleric worked so that victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers are encouraged to come forward and make a report.

Leaked Transcript Makes Plain that Reconciliation Programs are Aimed at Protecting the Catholic Church, not Supporting Survivors

A recently leaked transcript has added more weight to a fact long suspected to be true – that the Archdiocese of New York had every intention of preventing the passage of the Child Victim’s Act. We are saddened but not surprised by this news, especially given that Catholic officials have spent millions trying to deny victims their day in court.

Horrifying Report from Ireland Demonstrates Human Toll of Enabling Institutional Abuse

A horrifying report from one of the world’s most Catholic nations is the latest in a series of government-commissioned investigations that demonstrates yet again the Church’s propensity for committing terrible abuses and then working to cover them up. We hope that this shocking report will spur other nations, including the US, into using the full powers of their government to investigate cases of wrongdoing within their own borders. We need to lay bare the truths that have long been hidden from the public.

A Catholic Priest Famed for Chess Talent Accused of Using his Skills to Groom and Abuse Altar Boys in New York

A Catholic clergyman famed for his chess skills has been accused of using those talents to groom and abuse at least two altar boys. We applaud these brave victims for coming forward and sharing their story publicly. We hope it encourages others who were hurt to make a report of their own and start healing.


Supporters of Popular Priest Accused of Abuse Demonstrate Publicly, Likely Scaring and Shaming Victims into Silence

Supporters of a popular and prominent Catholic priest in Chicago took to the streets to show their support for the accused cleric. While we understand that these supporters have a right to their opinion, we hope that in the future they will utilize alternative means of support that will not scare or shame victims into silence.

Diocese of Fall River MA Finally Releases List of Accused Priests

Finally, after years of refusal, Catholic officials in Fall River have followed the lead of nearly 160 other dioceses around the country and released a list of priests known to have abused children. This step is long overdue and must be followed by extensive outreach campaigns to ensure victims are informed, parishes are alerted, and the public can learn the true scope of clergy abuse within Fall River’s borders.

Catholic Officials Demand Silence from Journalists who Walk Out in Protest, SNAP Applauds their Integrity

Catholic officials in Cologne demanded silence from journalists who were invited to a press event on a report into the scope and handling of clergy sexual abuse within Germany’s largest and wealthiest Archdiocese. Instead, those reporters walked out as one, showing that their silence cannot be demanded and that parishioners and the public deserve the whole truth about this serious issue.

Prominent Chicago Pastor Accused, SNAP Applauds Victim

A popular Chicago priest has been removed from his duties while allegations of child sexual abuse against him are investigated. We applaud the brave victim for coming forward and hope that this news will encourage others who may have experienced or witnessed abuse to come forward and make a report to local police.

Serially Abusive Priest from Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Sued Again

In a case that is a microcosm of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has been sued again. We applaud the brave victim who came forward and hope that this story will encourage other survivors to speak out as well.

SNAP New Orleans Leader Kevin Bourgeois and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond Release Joint Statement

For the past 18 months, the Archdiocese of New Orleans and local SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) leadership have appeared at odds, often publicly and in the media, over how the archdiocese has handled claims of sexual abuse by clergy.

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