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Human Rights Court Rules on Abuse Complaint Against Vatican

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A group of victims of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church will hear Tuesday whether they can sue the Vatican. If the European Court of Human Rights agrees with them, it will pave the way for more similar cases.


The victims from the Netherlands, Belgium and France feel damaged not only by the perpetrators themselves but also by the church. He systematically closed his eyes to the abuse, protected clergy who committed it and left victims out in the cold. “To this day, they experience the devastating consequences of this omerta,” says lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge.

But it is impossible to hold the church leadership in the Vatican to account in court, the Belgian judge previously ruled. The state headed by the Pope is inviolable, just like any other country. Moreover, victims cannot anonymously join the lawsuit, as Van Steenbrugge wanted.

The victims did not stop there. They could not achieve their rights in this way; they complained to the Strasbourg human rights court. But, according to the human rights convention, that is their right. They also insist that victims should not have to step forward by name but should participate in a so-called class action.

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