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

Bishop Michael Hoeppner Resigns While Under Investigation for Covering Up Clergy Abuse

In September of 2019, it was announced that a Minnesota bishop was placed under investigation for covering up cases of clergy abuse. Today, he resigned before the results of that investigation were made public.

Former Auxiliary Bishop who Mishandled Abuse Allegations Placed In Charge of Cincinnati Parish, SNAP Responds

In a tone-deaf move from Catholic officials in Cincinnati, a former auxiliary bishop who resigned his position after it was discovered he ignored allegations against an abusive priest for six years has now been reassigned to a local parish. We are outraged that a man who so failed in his duty to protect children from abuse has now been put in charge of a parish and we hope parents and parishioners will stand up against this appointment.

Catholic Priest and Former Mayor of Plattsburgh Accused of Abuse, SNAP Calls for Investigation by Law Enforcement

A lawsuit has been filed against the Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg alleging sexual abuse of a minor at the hands of two of their priests, one of whom eventually became the mayor of Plattsburgh, NY. We hope that this news encourages others to come forward. However, we are concerned that other allegations may have been suppressed due to the power and political connections of the former mayor.

Norbertines Add Two Names to List of Accused, Including Former Leader of the Order

Indictment Returned Against Franciscan University Priest, SNAP Calls out Diocese of Steubenville for Hairsplitting

A priest who worked as a campus minister at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH has been indicted on charges of rape and sexual battery, but church officials in Steubenville are splitting hairs over the priest’s status as a religious order priest.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe Facing Nearly 400 Claims in Bankruptcy Process

According to Catholic officials from Santa Fe, “just under 400 claims” of clergy sexual abuse have been brought against the Archdiocese, and Church leaders admit that “many/most of them—past and present—check out as very likely.” We are glad that this admission has been made but cannot help but feel that this is but a small picture of the true scope of sexual abuse and cover-up within New Mexico.

Catholic Officials in Newark Did Nothing to Protect Children Despite Knowing of Abuse Allegations for at least 13 Years

We are not at all surprised to learn that a Catholic priest in Newark was allowed to keep working despite being accused of child sexual abuse. What is particularly galling in this case is just how terrible the excuses given by Newark Church officials are. We hope that parishioners and the public will express their outrage at the lack of respect and care shown towards Newark children.

Victims are calling on a Missouri Baptist minister and Southwest Baptist University trustee to action regarding a controversial Greenwood minister

Once again, a Baptist minister accused of mishandling a child sex abuse case has a new role. Mike Roy of Raytown, MO has been named vice-chair of a panel to search for a new president of Southwest Baptist University. SBU's Board of Trustees selects search firm for presidential search (

Colorado Takes Massive Step Forward with SOL Reform, But More Changes Must Still Come

We are thrilled that the Colorado legislature is sending a bill to the governor’s desk that will eliminate the civil statute of limitations for childhood sex crimes. This is an important step forward that we hope will be followed by another step that will give current survivors their day in court and get critical information about abusers and enablers into the hands of parents and the public.

Vatican Clears Monsignor of Abuse Claims Despite Review Board Finding Them Credible

Despite a local review board determining allegations against a now-deceased monsignor to be “credible and substantiated,” Catholic officials in the Vatican overturned that decision. We believe more stock should be put in the decision made by local members of the review board as opposed to that of Church officials from afar and we hope that victims are not discouraged by news of the Vatican’s decision.

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