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Author Topic: Should the Pope be arrested?  (Read 6240 times)

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Offline JudeTopic starter

Should the Pope be arrested?
« on: April 13, 2010, 10:08:04 PM »
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100412/wl_uk_afp/britainvaticanpopereligionchildabuse_20100412175429

This is certainly a fascinating issue.  I definitely think he should be arrested and tried--why should he be above the law?  If he can be convicted, then he deserves to do jailtime the same as the rest of us.

I don't think that the Vatican should be considered a separate government despite what they like to claim.  That would certainly put an entirely different spin on Catholic Churches.  They're not embassies, colonies, or enclaves, are they?  Priests certainly don't have diplomatic immunity.  It seems like the Vatican wants the rights of being a separate entity without the responsibilities.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2010, 10:54:00 PM by Jude »

Offline Paladin

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010, 10:18:11 PM »
Unfortunatly Rome IS its own separate entity.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2010, 10:22:49 PM »
The UN granted the Vatican permanent observer state status in the UN Charter so is considered a nation, in fact if I recall they have ambassadors just not many one in the UN for sure. But head of states can be arrested the International Criminal Court could charge him and have him brought to trial.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2010, 10:27:22 PM »
I don't think it will fly. This is just another grandstanding stunt. (Of course I think some folks need to bring up the Vactican's role in covering things up..but this isnt' the way.)

Offline Sabby

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2010, 03:44:11 AM »
Should he? Yes.

Will he? No.

I honestly wish they would arrest him. Even if he's totally ignorant of the child abuse, thats a crime in itself.

Offline GeekFury

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2010, 05:29:33 AM »
To be sort of devil advocate, it's not the current pope who covered it up it was John Paul the Second, or did he cover it up before he became pope? I'm not sure on those details, but maybe instead, hold the Vatican responsible as a whole and put the pope on trail as their figure head? I'm not sure, doubt anything will come of it but I do back the fact someone needs to be held to account, it was shocking that they got away with it for so long.

Offline Avi

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 12:18:45 PM »
The cover-up has probably been going on since before John Paul II honestly.  For all the good things that he did as Pope, especially in making youth excited about being the next generation of Christians, he seems to have turned a blind eye to what had been brewing for a while. 

Should Benedict be arrested?  At least brought to answer questions before the legislatures of the affected countries.  Will he be made to do anything?  Probably not, the Vatican does a fantastic job of insulating the Papacy from political backlash.

Online Silk

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 12:33:56 PM »
We should all be held accountable for our actions, diverting the course of justice is a crime and should be treated as such.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2010, 12:45:09 PM »
I figure if any European government has grounds to arrest the Pope it would be the Republic of Ireland. (Of course if you were going to arrest folks for interferring with the investigation of cases of abuse in the Republic, 3/4s of the last 30 years worth of elected officers would be behind bars...)

I do not think this is a prudent move given we (and by 'we' I mean any country looking into these allegations) haven't been able to fully punish the parts of the church WITHIN the country. We got plenty of folks to nail here.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2010, 02:39:00 PM »
Before he became pope, he was the head of the inquisition (or whatever name they're calling it these days). Guess what one of their duties is? Yup, incidents of priests abusing. There have been published accounts of his office being contacted concerning a priest in the States who had abused deaf children at a school. The reply stressed the importance of the good name of the church, and the decision was made to move the priest, rather than remove him.

Go check a few news stories. It's a fair bet that he knew at least some of what was going on.

But now apparently its the gays that are to blame for it, according to cardinal whoever, on tour in Chile. I swear, these days they're only opening their mouths to exchange feet.

Offline GeekFury

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2010, 02:47:56 PM »
I did not know he covered it up, I knew he was part of the Inquisitions modern office, but no idea that was part of his duties, though if they don't want to hold the priests that done it to blame then yeah he should get the blame for covering it up as isn't that tantamount to perversion of the course of justice? Or at least I'm sure it would be here in the UK.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2010, 02:58:42 PM »
I don't think his name is on any papers, but if he was head of the organisation (and reputed to be very much a micromanager) I suspect he knew all about it. I'd say he has official deniability, at least in the legal sense though.

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2010, 03:31:57 PM »
Per the Lateran Treaty of 1929, the Vatican is an independent Nation State, compromising all of 110 acres. The treaty was recognized worldwide when it was signed by the Holy See and the Italian Government.

According to the Treaty, several prominent properties outside of the Vatican have extraterritorial status which is the the equivalent to the status of Embassies.

So, arresting the Pope would be like trying to arrest a Head of State of a Foreign Nation.

Do I think that some sort of justice needs to be meted out, of course.

However, the Vatican is an independent nation, and as such, is treated as such.

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2010, 04:22:37 PM »
Quote from: Wikipedia
The Holy See has been recognized, both in state practice and in the writing of modern legal scholars, as a subject of public international law, with rights and duties analogous to those of States. Although the Holy See, as distinct from the Vatican City State, does not fulfil the long-established criteria in international law of statehood; having a permanent population, a defined territory, a stable government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states, its possession of full legal personality in international law is proved by the fact that it maintains diplomatic relations with 177 states, that it is a member-state  in various intergovernmental international organizations, and that it is: "respected by the international community of sovereign States and treated as a subject of international law having the capacity to engage in diplomatic relations and to enter into binding agreements with one, several, or many states under international law that are largely geared to establish and preserving peace in the world."
So... it's not quite that clear.

Also, when he assisted in the coverups he was not Pope, so even if you agree that he has diplomatic immunity for anything he does now, he didn't have it then.

Offline GeekFury

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2010, 04:31:05 PM »
So... it's not quite that clear.

Also, when he assisted in the coverups he was not Pope, so even if you agree that he has diplomatic immunity for anything he does now, he didn't have it then.

True but can he be arrested for those crime now he is pope? Or can they arrest him saying 'At the time you were a cardinal'? ( He was a cardinal right? Or whats he a bishop? )

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2010, 04:42:55 PM »
If they're going to arrest him, then it's grandstanding unless they can make the charges stick.  The charge in this case is 'crimes against humanity'.  This is the same sort of crime that the Nazi high officials were charged with during the Nuremberg trials.  This is a charge that is associated with the highest form of evil known to history.  While what has happened is reprehensible...it's not a crime against humanity.  According to the ICC, who would be trying the case, the definition of crimes against humanity is:

"Particularly odious offences that constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape and political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion."


So, unless the Pope/Vatican has been telling people to go ahead and molest children, it's not a crime against humanity.  They have to be systematic, like what the Nazis did. 

Offline Brandon

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2010, 04:43:11 PM »
I am a Roman Catholic and I think he should be held responsible for his actions, the key word being his. If he had some hand in covering up the incidents then absolutely he should be held accountable and judged by our laws (since the majority of the reported crimes happened in our country). However, he should not be judged for cover ups made by previous popes. The issue in my mind is, can they prove that he took part in any cover ups? If there isnt hard evidence then sorry but that's resonable doubt in my mind

Then theres the other question, how many of these events really happened? Im sure some of them did but Im also sure that some of them didnt. Some people are motivated purely by greed and have made false accusations in an attempt to get money, Ive seen that happen first hand when a priest was moved elsewhere and then about 2 months afterwards someone came forward claiming that he had been molested by the man. Then the social workers came in, trying to convince every person in the youth group that they had been molested by him. I can say with certainty that I never had an inappropriate moment with the Father and that the accuser was making it all up. This is why these big cases which want a ton of money strike me as greedy. If it was a small amount to cover psychiatric fee's and such, I could understand that but when I see huge numbers I tend to think theyre greedy assholes trying to make a fast million bucks

As a society, American society that is, we tend to immediatly favor the "victum" and dismiss evidence to the contrary. When serving on a jury many people forget what resonable doubt means and that any doubt in their mind means they should vote not guilty. They dont question the evidence, the motives, or the opportunity. They only take one look at the person and decide there and then whether they are guilty or not which is the wrong way to serve on a jury IMO

Personally, I have never understood why the Vatican doesnt aggressively go after the molesting priests themselves. I think that would make them look better in the eyes of people


Offline Inkidu

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2010, 04:49:59 PM »
Unfortunatly Rome IS its own separate entity.
Vatican City is it's own separate entity as well. The world's smallest sovereign nation.

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2010, 04:57:08 PM »
"Particularly odious offences that constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape and political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion."

Actually, it looks like if it was 'widespread', they might have a leg to stand on - since the lack of action mentioned by Brandon could be spun as a form of toleration.  It's not a 'beyond reasonable doubt' sort of thing, but it might get past a grand jury.

(Of course, I've also heard it's possible to indict a ham sandwich.)

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2010, 05:02:16 PM »
If an official investigation is begun, they may find evidence which incriminates him (or exonerates).  The point is, refusing to do that investigation because of his status is wrong.  If he committed a crime, he should face the same penalty as anyone else.

More than likely, the Holy See will hide as much as they can if such an investigation occurs, which will at least show the public how secretive they are (thus have something to hide).

You could call it grandstanding, but I think even if nothing comes of it, it helps to expose the Vatican as (I think they seem to be) a self-interested entity motivated by maintaining their power base over doing what's right.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2010, 05:08:39 PM by Jude »

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2010, 05:08:21 PM »
See, that's one of the problems I've got with practicing law now...part of it is a 'how do we spin the truth' game.  Dawkins (I identify him because he's probably the name that most people know) and his allies say that because the Church isn't doing everything in its power to stop priests from molesting children, they're tolerating the abuse of said children. 

But how do you prove that?  One of the things that one of my lawyer friends has said is that unless you put them on the stand, it's impossible to prove someone's state of mind at a given time.  And even then, it's not always a given.  And no defense lawyer would be stupid enough to put the man accused of the crime on the stand.

And to supplement your comment, Oniya, it's also possible to indict flies, dead bodies, and God.  Yes, there was a man who sued God.


And Jude, about the power base over doing what's right?  Every government is like that.  You can be a dictatorship or a democracy, and it won't matter.

Offline Brandon

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2010, 05:27:20 PM »
Another thought comes to mind, the fact that they have an office to investigate these incidents is evidence in and of itself that they dont tolerate preists molesting children. They might just be trying to handle it quietly. Its the exact opposite of how I would handle investigations but it does show that theyre doing something. I suppose its up to opinion of whether or not that's doing enough

Lets take the incident that someone mentioned when a priest was reported to the office and they told them to keep the incident quiet to preserve the good name of the church. What if they investigated it and found nothing to support the accusation? Obviously it would be wrong to punish a man without evidence, I think we can all agree on that. However an acusation was still made, if they kept him there it probably would have caused more unrest in the community. In that case it was likely better to move him to another community and keep the incident quiet. Seriously, how many parents would allow their children to be around a man who had been accused of molesting children but never convicted?





Offline Avi

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Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2010, 05:32:46 PM »
Predator priests were simply sent elsewhere

The wheels are coming off the Catholic Church in terms of public opinion... for an organization that is supposed to be Christian and stand up for the weakest in society, they sure seemed to do a good job of protecting their own instead.

Offline JudeTopic starter

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2010, 07:37:32 PM »
Another thought comes to mind, the fact that they have an office to investigate these incidents is evidence in and of itself that they dont tolerate preists molesting children. They might just be trying to handle it quietly. Its the exact opposite of how I would handle investigations but it does show that theyre doing something. I suppose its up to opinion of whether or not that's doing enough
It's not up to the church to handle such problems though.  All they should do is report pedo-priests to the local authorities and let them handle it.  What gives them the right to police the members of their institution when they've broken local law without reporting it?  I'm pretty sure that's a crime.  You don't get to determine the punishments that your members (even your citizens) make on foreign soil, they're subject to the law of the land, and if they're willfully subverting the execution of that law, then they're basically committing a crime as an institution against our entire government and country.  We've gone to war for less.
Lets take the incident that someone mentioned when a priest was reported to the office and they told them to keep the incident quiet to preserve the good name of the church. What if they investigated it and found nothing to support the accusation? Obviously it would be wrong to punish a man without evidence, I think we can all agree on that. However an acusation was still made, if they kept him there it probably would have caused more unrest in the community. In that case it was likely better to move him to another community and keep the incident quiet. Seriously, how many parents would allow their children to be around a man who had been accused of molesting children but never convicted?
They've repeatedly shown, in my opinion, that they only have an interest in protecting themselves from scandal.  Moving a sex offender to a different location without any other punishment other than "private penance" is not going to stop the molestation, but it will stop the victims from having their day in court.

No one's saying "kill or imprison the Pope."  Throwing that out there was either a non-sequitur or a strawman, I'm not sure which.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2010, 07:40:11 PM by Jude »

Offline alxnjsh

Re: Should the Pope be arrested?
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2010, 08:47:03 PM »
I saw an interesting article on the Huffington Post about the evolution of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Initially it was considered a moral individual sin that could be overcome with prayer. It then evolved into a mental illness that should be treated professionally. It is not being seen as a crime.

I'm in NO way condoning anything that was done, but it can help putting it into context. We shape our reactions to social problems based on how we define them (moral, mental illness, criminal).

The con to the article I would bring up would be they are not mutually exclusive.