Irish reports 'core' to abuse claim against Vatican


IRELAND’S REPORTS on clerical sex abuse form “a core part” of a complaint lodged against Pope Benedict XVI by two US advocacy groups at the International Criminal Court in the Hague last week.

Members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap) and the Center for Constitutional Rights visited Ireland at the weekend following their submission, which contains Irish reports, including the Cloyne report, and observations about the Vatican made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in his Dáil speech in July.

“Ireland really led the way in helping us have an understanding of how this works and identifying all the practices that are used in different dioceses around the world that have continued and enabled the sexual violence,” said Pamela Spees, human rights lawyer with the centre.

The groups lodged a 20,000-page dossier which is an attempt to hold the Holy See and the pope legally responsible for widespread abuse by priests in various countries. It is calling on the court to investigate the Vatican for “crimes against humanity.”

Investigations from Ireland are being combined with those from Canada, Germany the US and elsewhere.

“When you look at it all together, it really does set out very clearly that everyone is conforming to policy. There is a lot for them to look at and we hope they look at it carefully,” Ms Spees said.

Ireland was “such an important site” with “so many significant developments which contribute to the understanding of how this operates in church policy”, she said. The Irish experience was “a core part” of the submission and has “contributed significantly”.

Founding Snap member and US clerical abuse survivor Peter Isley said much had been done in Ireland to embrace the principle that “the church cannot investigate its own crimes”. He described the details in the Irish reports as “stunning”. On reading them, he said, “it’s hard to imagine that you wouldn’t conclude how it [the Vatican] has to be brought [before] an international criminal court”.

Mr Isley was visiting Dublin “to express tremendous gratitude to the survivors of this country”.

“It is really hard to overestimate how victims in the United States are watching and applauding survivors and the Government here and others in making truly historic change,” he said.

Mr Kenny’s speech had an impact on survivors around the world. “We have been waiting a long time for political leadership to speak in unambiguous tones about this,” he said. It did not matter where victims came from as they were “their own country” of the “dispossessed, raped and molested” and would “succeed together” using international law.

“Somewhere in the world an international authority aside from the Vatican has to start looking at these crimes,” he continued.

He asked why the International Criminal Court existed “if not to protect children around the world”. Children were already safer because of the submission file because it encourages survivors to come forward, he added.

The groups are now waiting to see whether the court will take on the case. Commentators have said it was unlikely the court would take on this case given many of the crimes took place before 2002.