Could The Pope Claim Immunity To Prosecution?

The lawyers for two of the world's most prominent atheist intellectuals, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, are looking for ways to try the pope for crimes against humanity. The pair are looking to see if they can arrest the pope for his part in the alleged concealment of widespread sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

The latest allegations against Pope Benedict XVI occurred last Friday, after The Associated Press disclosed documents revealing that as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, director of the Vatican's doctrinal orthodoxy office, Benedict had resisted appeals in the 1980s from a California diocese, to laicize a priest who had pleaded no contest to lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two boys.

As further counts of alleged priestly abuse appeared in the United States and Europe, Benedict's handling of confirmed molesters before he became pope in 2005, has now been queried in cases in Munich, Wisconsin and, lately, in California, where the pope’s signature appeared on a 1985 letter rejecting requests to defrock a paedophile priest.

"The Vatican is not recognized as a state in international law. People assume that it has existed for time immermorial, but it was a construct of Mussolini, and when the Vatican first applied to become a member of the UN, the US said no. So as a sop they were given the status of permanent observers rather than full members", said Dawkins and Hitchens' lawyer, Mark Stephens.

The Vatican has proposed that the pope is exempted to prosecution as he is a head of state. Hitchens and Dawkins state that he is not exempted, as the Vatican is not represented at the United Nations.

The church at the University of Dayton, a Marianist school in Ohio, and William Portier, an expert on Catholic theology replicates the opinions of Catholics, who see no reason for Benedict to give any thought to relinquishing his position.

Portier claims the church's knowledge of sex abuse has gone through phases – from a moral issue that was a subject of confession, to a psychological illness that needed counseling, to a crime. He believes the cases that have become public to date disclose Benedict acting according to the protocol at the time.

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