The extent of child rape and other sexual violence revealed in the commission’s report – as many as 20,000 Dutch children in Catholic institutions – is yet another example of the widespread and systematic nature of the problem of child sex crimes in the Catholic Church. If similar commissions were held in every country, we would undoubtedly be equally appalled by the rates of abuse. But, for every country in which such a commission is held, there are dozens of places in which there is no such investigation, no efforts at accountability, and no meaningful recourse for those who are abused. Moreover, the apologies offered by Dutch bishops are little help to past and future victims if those apologies do not materialize into concrete measures to stop the problem. Instead, as the Dutch commission noted, and as we have seen time and again, the goals of Church leaders including Pope Benedict XVI and other high-level Vatican officials are not to protect children and prevent abuse, but to cover up the sexual violence and avoid scandals. This is precisely why an international response to these crimes, such as CCR’s work with SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Vatican officials for crimes against humanity is critical. Piecemeal investigations and prosecutions simply cannot solve a systematic problem that is actively tolerated and enabled at the highest levels of Church leadership. As the New York Times noted today, CCR and SNAP’s ICC case is ‘the most substantive effort yet to hold the pope and the Vatican accountable’ for rape and other sexual violence.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.