Lawyers today filed a petition with the International Criminal Court on behalf of clergy sex abuse victims urging an investigation of high-ranking Roman Catholic Church leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, charging that the widespread sexual abuse by priests in various countries and the handling of those cases by bishops and authorities in the Vatican constitute widespread human rights abuses.
This news story is bound to kick-start many a debate. Is this a justified approach towards accountability? Is it merely a publicity move, with no chance of further action?
Here are some random thoughts,
- I completely agree that rape and other forms of sexual violence are a crime against humanity, and need to be judged as such.
- I also agree that the Church has much to answer for after decades of cover-ups, denials, and shuffling around of abusive priests.
- Pondering history, I wonder how the Church would have fared post Crusade and Inquisition times if there had been an International Court at the time.
- I`m puzzled at my own reaction to this story. On the one hand, I`m saddened to see my Church being equated with countries that have committed some of the worst horrors of our time. On the other hand, part of me is eager to see true accountability for the wide spread rapes committed by clergy around the world.
- I find it interesting that American lawyers are eager to prosecute Church leaders through an International Criminal Court which is not supported by its own government.