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

Michigan Attorney General continues working to prosecute clergy abusers; SNAP applauds her work

We are thrilled to learn that one of the most aggressive and effective attorneys general in the US will be taking a former Oakland County Catholic priest to trial for sexually assaulting a youth decades ago. Investigation and intervention from secular authorities is the best way to root out ongoing abuse, discover historical cases, and bring healing and prevention to communities.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Deals Major Blow to Survivors of Childhood Abuse, SNAP Reacts

We are very disappointed in the 5-2 decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ended plaintiff Renee Rice's pursuit of justice. Her strength and conviction to hold the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown responsible for covering up and enabling sexual abuse speaks volumes. It inspires others to continue their path to justice.  Rice alleges abuse at the hands of the alleged abuser, Fr. Charles F. Bodziak; in the 1970s, Rice was then the church organist at St. Leo's church in Altoona, Pa.

Former Professor at Virginia Catholic College Arrested for Child Solicitation

William R. Luckey was arrested on June 25 and charged with solicitation of a 10 year old girl and two counts of taking indecent liberties with the child. Professor Luckey taught for almost 30 years at Christendom College in Virginia, a Catholic institution recommended by the conservative Cardinal Newman Society.

In Bankruptcy Proceedings, Norwich Catholic Leaders Move for All Records to be Sealed, SNAP Worries that Important Information on Abuse Will Be Concealed

A mere day after a Connecticut Catholic Diocese filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of lawsuits for child sexual abuse and cover-up, attorneys for the Church have gone even further and filed a motion to ensure that all information, financial and otherwise, in this case is sealed and redacted. To us, this motion is a clear and public example of Catholic officials using bankruptcy court as a means to protect their secrets, not just their money.

General Secretary of the USCCB resigns before a media report on sexual misconduct

Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), today announced the resignation of Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill from his post as the general secretary of the conference. The resignation came ahead of a media report alleging that Msgr. Burrill frequented gay bars and private homes using a popular “hookup” app on his mobile device.

Pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea in Staten Island faces a second allegation of child sexual abuse; SNAP responds

In a letter to parishioners dated July 16th, 2021, Fr. Thomas Devery, Pastor of Our Lady of the Sea on Staten Island, informed the faithful that a second lawsuit under New York's Child Victim Act had been filed against him again alleging that he had sexually abused a minor decades ago. Fr. Devery further wrote that "in keeping with the policy" of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, he will be "stepping aside" from his assignment to the parish while this new accusation is investigated and resolved.

Archdiocese of New York again named in lawsuit over alleged abuse at Mt. Loretto; SNAP calls for secular investigations of such facilities throughout the US

A resident of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto in Staten Island three decades ago has accused three adults, including a priest, of sexually abusing him in a recently filed lawsuit. In the wake of the tragedies that have been uncovered in the past months in Canadian residential schools, we call for secular investigations in each state that had Catholic Church or government oversight at such institutions. Sadly, many children who were placed in such situations were orphaned, wards of the court, or from troubled families. They deserve justice!

Catholic priest pleads guilty to sex trafficking and possession of child porn; SNAP calls on the Diocese to do outreach

A Catholic priest from the Diocese of Cleveland pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking of a minor and child pornography. He will be sentenced in November and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. However, his victims still need to be helped. SNAP calls on the Diocese to do outreach to parishioners.

SNAP Disappointed as Houston Priest Escapes Criminal Charges

A priest who was removed from his parish in 2019 following allegations of inappropriate behavior with another adult was in court this week in Houston, but a grand jury elected not to proceed with the criminal case against him. Our hearts ache for the victim who has been out and public about the abuse he suffered and we hope that he is getting the support and help that he needs.

Diocese of Norwich, CT Declares Bankruptcy, SNAP Responds

Yet another Roman Catholic diocese has declared bankruptcy as a result of claims for child sexual abuse and cover-up. We believe that this move is more about protecting church secrets than it is about a lack of assets and we hope that parishioners and the public will demand better of their church leaders.

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