top of page
  • Writer's pictureGlobal Human Rights Taskforce

Holding Pope Francis Accountable: Pursuing Legal Action for Crimes Against Humanity

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Report Prepared By: Global Human Rights Taskforce President & Special Rapporteur Joseph Bonner

Date: Thursday, Sep 7, 2023, 6:30 AM

Introduction In what can only be described as a severe breach of trust and moral responsibility, the explosive allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in 2018 sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church. The claims assert that Pope Francis knowingly ignored multiple sexual assault allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, leaving at least 20 victims in the harrowing clutches of their abuser. The gravity of these allegations demands nothing less than a thorough investigation, absolute accountability, and swift justice for all victims involved. As of September 7, 2023, the Pope has not commented on the allegations, and no investigation by the United Nations, the European Union, or the International Criminal Court has held the Pope accountable for his criminal complicity and negligence.

Archbishop Viganò's Revelations: The Shocking Truth Unveils The allegations in 2018, leveled by Archbishop Viganò in his scathing testimony expose the deep-rooted corruption within the highest ranks of the Vatican. His claim that Pope Francis was aware of McCarrick's repeated assaults and yet allowed him to continue his disgraceful behavior goes beyond mere negligence; it reaches the very pinnacle of moral bankruptcy. Such extreme moral dereliction requires an equally resolute response from all stakeholders of the Catholic Church, as well as legal authorities. Demand for an Independent and Transparent Investigation The growing sentiment among the faithful, the concerned public, and victims' rights advocates demands an immediate and thorough independent investigation to ascertain the veracity of Archbishop Viganò's claims. The Vatican must demonstrate its commitment to justice by appointing an impartial team of investigators, unconnected to the accused parties, to conduct a comprehensive and transparent probe. This investigation should not be conducted behind closed doors; rather, it must be open to public scrutiny, providing reassurance that there will be no further cover-ups. Severing Ties with the Culture of Silence One cannot ignore the continued culture of silence surrounding sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. The Vatican's history of protecting abusers and prioritizing the reputation of the institution over the safety and well-being of victims is deeply disturbing. The time for promises and empty words is over. The blatant disregard for the suffering of survivors and the inexcusable acceptance of sexual abuse within the Church's hierarchy must be cast aside. We demand a complete overhaul of this culture of silence, where the protection of the vulnerable surpasses personal or institutional interests. Accountability: No Exceptions, No Prevarications Should the allegations against the Pope and other high-ranking officials be proven true, there can be no mitigation, no excuses, and no escape from accountability. The world must witness the Catholic Church taking decisive action against those responsible, upholding the highest standards of moral integrity. This includes not only holding the perpetrators accountable but also instituting a comprehensive system that ensures no abuser can ever again find refuge within the Church. Justice for the Survivors: A Non-Negotiable Imperative Amidst the justified outrage and call for accountability, it is essential to remember the primary victims of these foul acts—the survivors themselves. We demand that the Catholic Church prioritize providing justice, support, and healing to the survivors of sexual abuse, offering them compassion and a path towards restoration. Monetary compensation alone will not suffice; only acknowledging the profound damage inflicted and working tirelessly to prevent future harm will demonstrate a genuine commitment to their well-being. Pope Francis: His Crimes Against Humanity Archbishop Viganò's allegations have ignited a firestorm of indignation, revealing a deeply troubling pattern of misconduct and corruption within the Catholic Church. This moment demands unwavering accountability, an independent investigation, and justice for the survivors. The world watches the Vatican's response carefully. Anything short of swift, concrete action risks casting a permanent stain on the institution's moral standing and exacerbating the pain endured by those victims whose voices have been tragically ignored for far too long.

The systemic ignoring of sexual abuse allegations by Pope Frances can be construed as "crimes against humanity" due to the following reasons, supported by articles from the International Criminal Court (ICC): 1. Widespread or Systematic Attack: According to Article 7 of the Rome Statute, a crime against humanity requires a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. The word "attack" encompasses a broad range of conduct. In the context of sexual abuse allegations, the failure of high-ranking officials, including the Pope, to effectively respond or prevent such abuses can be seen as an attack on the affected civilian population. The patterns of abuse, cover-ups, and lack of accountability contribute to the argument for a widespread or systematic approach. 2. Inhumane Acts: Article 7 of the Rome Statute defines certain acts, when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack, as inhumane and unlawful. These acts include rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, and other forms of sexual violence. Sexual abuse allegations within the Catholic Church and other institutions highlight the occurrence of these acts, making them potential crimes against humanity. 3. State or Organizational Policy: The failure of high-ranking officials to take appropriate action against sexual abuse allegations may demonstrate a policy or organizational approach that permits the commission of such crimes. Article 7 of the Rome Statute emphasizes that such policies or practices also constitute crimes against humanity. When allegations consistently go unaddressed, it suggests a failure of the system to protect the rights and well-being of individuals within the civilian population. 4. Knowledge or Intent: Crimes against humanity require that the accused individual or group had knowledge of the attack and intended to carry out the acts in question. While establishing individual intent may be challenging, evidence of knowledge and a failure to act within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church or other organizations may substantiate this element. The intentional or knowing failure to protect victims and address allegations contributes to the argument for crimes against humanity.

Demand for Legel Action by the United Nations Security Council and the International Criminal Court It is important to note that legal determinations regarding crimes against humanity are ultimately made by courts. However, the systematic ignoring of sexual abuse allegations within the Catholic Church and other institutions suggests a potential basis for examining these actions as crimes against humanity under international law, as outlined in the Rome Statute and other relevant documents from the ICC.

The Global Human Rights Taskforce firmly and unequivocally demands the immediate initiation of a comprehensive and formal investigation by the esteemed International Criminal Court's Office of the Prosecutor. This imperative inquiry is crucial to determining the presence of substantial evidence and a robust legal foundation that would warrant the commencement of legal proceedings. In tandem with this indispensable pursuit of justice, we adamantly require the esteemed United Nations Security Council, an authoritative body that has already deemed it necessary for the Vatican to undertake an overhaul of its internal policies, to expeditiously transfer this consequential case to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Such decisive action is pivotal in ensuring that the highest ecclesiastical authorities, including the highly revered Pope and other cardinal luminaries who stand accused, face the due consequences for their egregious crimes against humanity. Let it be unequivocally emphasized that the Global Human Rights Taskforce firmly believes in upholding the principles of international law and justice. Our relentless pursuit of accountability and retribution for these unfathomable transgressions is driven by an unwavering commitment to safeguard the inherent rights and dignity of every individual within our global community. This moral and legal imperative necessitates the immediate initiation of a formal investigation by the International Criminal Court and the subsequent trial of the implicated perpetrators who have callously violated the sanctity of human rights.


bottom of page