Is the Catholic Church guilty of crimes against humanity?
Crimes Against Humanity (A to Z guide) (My emphasis)
To some extent, crimes against humanity overlap with genocide and war crimes. But crimes against humanity are distinguishable from genocide in that they do not require an intent to “destroy in whole or in part,” as cited in the 1948 Genocide Convention, but only target a given group and carry out a policy of “widespread or systematic” violations. Crimes against humanity are also distinguishable from war crimes in that they not only apply in the context of war—they apply in times of war and peace.
Crimes against humanity have existed in customary international law for over half a century and are also evidenced in prosecutions before some national courts.
The most notable of these trials include those of Paul Touvier, Klaus Barbie, and Maurice Papon in France, and Imre Finta in Canada.
But crimes against humanity are also deemed to be part of jus cogens—the highest standing in international legal norms. Thus, they constitute a non-derogable rule of international law.
The implication of this standing is that they are subject to universal jurisdiction, meaning that all States can exercise their jurisdiction in prosecuting a perpetrator irrespective of where the crime was committed.
It also means that all States have the duty to prosecute or extradite, that no person charged with that crime can claim the “political offense exception” to extradition, and that States have the duty to assist each other in securing evidence needed to prosecute.
But of greater importance is the fact that no perpetrator can claim the “defense of obedience to superior orders” and that no statute of limitation contained in the laws of any State can apply. Lastly, no one is immune from prosecution for such crimes, even a head of State.