An inquiry at The Hague raises more accusations that thousands of children have been sexually abused by Catholic priests since 1945.
Press TV talks with Franklin Lamb, international lawyer from Beirut in response to this latest report that has prompted an apology by Pope Benedict. It is Mr. Lamb's opinion that there is a collective fear families have now in sending their children to Catholic schools because of sexual abuse occurrences.
Mr. Lamb says child abuse by Catholic priests and Catholic schools around the world is endemic and has been present for literally hundreds of years. The interview discusses the challenges involved with jurisdiction and what entities have the capability to take on the political power of the Vatican. Following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: With this latest report, what can be done in order to protect children? This is not the first time that the Vatican or the priests connected to the Vatican have been charged with such abuses. Why do you think this continues to happen?
Franklin Lamb: Well, I think every Roman Catholic church, certainly in America, where the practice (sexual abuse) seems to have been rampant; but around the world is asking that same question. The families are worried about their children not only by the priests, but in the Roman Catholic schools there is some incidents of this.
It's a terrible problem. It will never go away until there is full transparency. It's nice that Pope Benedict XVI apologizes, but that doesn't help.
I am interested in the fact that SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and others are requesting of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a crime against humanity. At what point does it become an international crime against humanity? Which family feels now today that their children are safe? There is disclosure after disclosure after disclosure; it's frankly incredible.
This raises of course the question of is it: homosexuals going to the priesthood to cover their activities of pedophilia? Or, do they become this way because of the abstinence requirement of the Romans after they get there?
It's a very great problem and the church will continue to lose memberships, which it's doing, especially in America. There is a report on Boston - they want more money for public schools because they don't want to send their children to Roman Catholic schools.
Where I grew up the Roman Catholic schools were considered better than the public schools, but they're not going to be able to exist if you have this kind of problem.
Press TV: One of the points you brought up I'd like to expand on - You talked about possible crimes against humanity. At what point does it perhaps meet that requirement? What is the measuring line - you're an international lawyer - what would determine if this could be classified as crimes against humanity?
Franklin Lamb: That's a good question and I'm sure that lots of people especially at the ICC that haven't thought much about this are really looking at rules in this subject. There's not a precise definition, but it involves the attack or death or the threats of death of the civilian population. Short of a crisis it would be difficult to make the crimes against humanity jurisdiction accept this case at the ICC…. perhaps on lesser grounds.
Press TV: Why is that ?
Franklin Lamb: Because I think that they would not compare it to what happened in Rwanda where they did take jurisdiction. And even in Libya where they probably won't see the case through it looks like, but they've issued arrest warrants.
I think the court will defer, unfortunately maybe, to the power of the Catholic Church and the power of Rome and argue that there are other forums more appropriate than the International Court of Justice to take up child abuse cases. So I predict they won't take jurisdiction - they may investigate, we'll see - but I think they're going to push this to the side.
It's an impressive demonstration there and it raises this issue again in a very important way, but I don't think the definition or the practice, really, of bringing a case where crimes against humanity would be found to apply to this case - I may be wrong, but I think there are so many other cases coming up and politically also, the ICC I don't think wants to take on the Roman Catholic Church. Maybe that's unfortunate, but I think it's a reality.
Press TV: You've brought up a very important point in all this is the power of the Roman Catholic Church - Where does the checks and balances come in? We've been hearing about these for decades - even this particular case, they're talking about since 1945, tens of thousands of children having been abused. At what point and what entity would be able to take on the Roman Catholic Church or the Vatican itself to hold them accountable?
Franklin Lamb: I read an article the other day on this subject that it's not just 1945 - you're right, that's when we learned about it, but it's been going on for literally hundreds of years. It's been the culture of the monasteries and of the roman churches around the world for literally hundreds of years.
Who can take jurisdiction, and must take jurisdiction, and there's been some of this by Municipal Courts in particular countries for example in the US there are several cases. They're not doing enough, but I think that every family that's had a child abused must go to that state court; or that federal court in their country and demand justice and I think there's very good chance they'll get it.
If they pressure the local community to bring these cases - I see this as a solution - it will be hundreds of cases. Literally, if you take the US in every state or district court of their geographical area I'm sure there are cases. As you said, it's rampant.
It's more than the church, it's a society problem that's damaging youth and so every local court must take this seriously and I think increasingly they're going to. And I believe that what's happening today at the ICC is going to increase pressure on the local jurisdictions to take action. And I think we're going to see many more cases filed as a result partly of today's activity in The Hague.