Abuse victims seek int'l court case against pope

(AP) - Clergy sex abuse victims upsetthat no high-ranking Roman Catholic leaders have been prosecutedfor sheltering guilty priests went to the International CriminalCourt today, seeking an investigation of the pope and topVatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity, a move thatVatican called a "ludicrous publicity stunt."

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based nonprofitlegal group, requested the inquiry on behalf of the SurvivorsNetwork of those Abused by Priests, arguing that the global churchhas maintained a "long-standing and pervasive system of sexualviolence" despite promises to swiftly oust predators.

The Vatican's U.S. lawyer, Jeffrey Lena, called the complaint a"ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicialprocesses" in a statement to The Associated Press.

The complaint names Pope Benedict XVI, partly in his former roleas leader of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of theFaith, which in 2001 explicitly gained responsibility foroverseeing abuse cases; Cardinal William Levada, who now leads thatoffice; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of stateunder Pope John Paul II; and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who nowholds that post.

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