The Vatican is not at all surprised the International Criminal Court rejected a request by an abuse victims’ advocacy group to investigate Benedict XVI for crimes against humanity.
“We have always thought that the Court would answer this way, given the unfounded accusation,” the Holy See’s press office director, Father Federico Lombardi, told CNA June 14.
The court rejected a request from the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests to investigate Benedict XVI and certain cardinals for crimes against humanity, according to a May 31 letter from the court.
It stated there is “no basis” for the network’s claims that the abuse was perpetrated by the Vatican.
“There is not a basis at this time to proceed with further analysis,” the tribunal, based in The Hague, told the network’s lawyers in the letter.
“The matters described in your communication do not appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the court,” a court official told the Center for Constitutional Rights, the nonprofit legal group that represents the advocacy group.
The legal center submitted the application to the court in Sept. 2011, saying that cases of pedophilia by priests should have been investigated as crimes against humanity.
The lawyers for SNAP argued that Pope Benedict and top Vatican officials had put in place policies that allowed abuse to continue.
Jane Adolphe, an associate law professor at Ave Maria Law School, told CNA June 14 that it is “unlikely” a request to investigate the former Pope will ever succeed in the future.
“When the petition was first filed, the decision to reject the request for investigation was predicted by many commentators who discussed some of the same temporal and subject matter jurisdictional obstacles mentioned in the current decision,” said Adolphe, who is well-versed in Vatican affairs.
She believes that the request was filed with one of three motives: as a campaign to raise awareness about clerical sex abuse, as a smear campaign against the Church, or to help the legal center attract some publicity.
“There might be a bit of truth in all of the above,” Adolphe remarked.