Belfast Telegraph

Church urged to release abuse files

An international clerical abuse survivors group is calling on Irish Catholic bishops to release secret files as it pursues the Vatican for crimes against humanity at the Hague.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap) and New York-based rights group Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) lodged papers against Pope Benedict in a landmark action in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

They allege the Pontiff and three senior cardinals in Rome "tolerated and enabled the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and child sex crimes".

Barbara Blaine, Snap president, said they want clerical sex abuse victims around the world to come forward with additional evidence to back up the complaint.

"Snap wants to prevent even one more child from being raped or sexually assaulted by a priest and we hope that victims around the world will know today that they are not alone and that it is safe to speak up and report their abuse," she said.

"We as victims are mobilising across the globe, and every survivor is invited to join us."

A team from Snap and the CCR will hand out flyers outside the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin on Sunday urging support for the case and also invite survivors to a meeting.

The potentially ground-breaking case at the ICC urges prosecutors to claim jurisdiction over the Catholic Church and investigate some of its most powerful hierarchy - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State and the Pope's right hand man, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a former secretary of state accused of blocking sex abuse investigations and Cardinal William Levada, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position once held by the Pope.

Included alongside the 85-page complaint are more than 20,000 pages of reports, policy papers and evidence of crimes involving Catholic clergy against children and vulnerable adults. Some of the reports from the Dublin Archdiocese, Cloyne and Ferns have been included.

Snap, which has more than 23,000 members, and the CCR will be in Dublin on Sunday as part of a 12-day tour of European cities to highlight their case. They will also visit Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, London, Warsaw, Madrid and Rome.

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