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 Columbus Ordered to Release Records

An Ohio judge is forcing the Catholic Diocese of Columbus to turn over records about clerics who may have seen, suspected or hidden cases of sexual abuse. We applaud this ruling which we believe will lead to safer communities and more transparency about cases of sexual violence.

Recent Addition to the Diocese of Santa Rosa List Points to Need for Catholic Bishops to Do More

Another abusive priest has been recently added to the list of names for the Diocese of Santa Rosa. The name was apparently added after a reporter from another state pointed out that the cleric, who also worked in California, had been included on another list.

12 California Dioceses Subpoenaed by Attorney General, SNAP Reacts

Nun Accused of Abuse in New York Lawsuit, SNAP Calls on Order to Release List of Accused Sisters

A newly-filed lawsuit in New York accuses a Catholic nun of sexually abusing a young girl at a New York school. We call on the sister’s order to publicly release any information they have related to claims of abuse and to do outreach to potential victims.


Priest Arrested for Child Pornography Possession, SNAP Responds

A Catholic priest in Cleveland has been arrested for possessing child pornography and today his bond was set at $50,000. We applaud law enforcement for their work in this case, but there is still much more to do. Child pornography is a crime with many victims, many predators and a tragically long shelf life.

Priest Found “Unsuitable for Ministry” Following Accusations of Abuse

A priest who had been placed on leave in January following allegations of sexual abuse has been found “unsuitable for ministry.” We call on Catholic officials in Philadelphia to do outreach to potential victims and to publicize complete information on this cleric so that local communities will be fully aware of the allegations.


Diocese of London, ON Admits that Abusers Remain Hidden in their Files

The Diocese of London today acknowledged that the list put together by survivors from SNAP Ontario was not only correct, but that there were actually more names still hidden. We call on Catholic officials to release those names and work histories to the public in order to protect children and support survivors.

Jesuits Blatantly Disregard Wishes of the Father of a Deceased Jesuit

In 2012, the California Jesuit Province agreed to remove the name of one of their deceased brothers – who had allegedly been sexually abused by a fellow Jesuit – from a headstone per the request of the decedent's father. Now, that same province has quietly added a similar headstone, blatantly disregarding the family's wishes.

Diocese of Peoria Delays former Archbishop’s Beatification Due to Secular Clergy Abuse Investigations

Fact Sheet On Credibly Accused Stockton Predator Priests Missing From Bishop Cotta's List

In 2017, forced to do so by a judge, the Stockton diocese posted names of 15 "credibly accused" abusers on their website.

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