Group Wants To Investigate Pope For Crimes Against Humanity

The Catholic Church has been dealing with sexual abuse allegations for years now, but the scandal has reached a new height: a nonprofit is asking the International Criminal Court in the Hague to investigate the Pope.

According to the BBC, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, with the support of victims in four different countries, has submitted thousands of pages of evidence of sex abuse and coverups. The CCR is petitioning the court to investigate Pope Benedict and three senior cardinals for crimes against humanity. Says the group's lawyer Pam Spees,

Crimes against tens of thousands of victims, most of them children, are being covered up by officials at the highest level of the Vatican. In this case, all roads really do lead to Rome.

The ICC's chief prosecutor will have to determine whether the court has the necessary jurisdiction to consider the matter. Regardless, even suggesting that the Pope be investigated by the same body that tried Slobodan Milosevic and other war criminals elevates accusations against the Church to a new level of seriousness. A lawyer for the Vatican, however, dismisses the CCR's request, calling it a "ludicrous" stunt and a "misuse of international judicial processes."

In other Church news, former Irish bishop Dr. Edward Daly has called for an end to the celibacy requirement for priests. Says Daly,

There will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the church. I think priests should have the freedom to marry if they wish. It may create a whole new set of problems but I think it's something that should be considered.

The Vatican does not appear to be considering it — a spokesman said only, "Bishop Daly was speaking in a personal capacity." Given the CCR's recent request, the Church's PR folks may have bigger things to deal with.

Sex Abuse Victims Urge ICC Pope Investigation [BBC]
Father D'Arcy's Delight At Bishop Daly's Call On Celibacy [BBC]
Vatican: Sex Abuse Case At Hague "Ludicrous" Stunt [AP]