Monday, April 12, 2010

Arrest the Pope? This is a truly crazy idea

Great Britain has a history of unhappy relations with the Roman Catholic Church -- indeed, even today Roman Catholics are barred from becoming the Head of State of the United Kingdom (or Canada).

This truly insane suggestion -- arresting the Pope -- is exactly in line with long term British anti-Catholic agitation.

And the concept of Universal Jurisdiction, deriving as it does from Grotius and the concept of an Emperor, is somewhat excessive considering that Great Britain is having a hard time keeping it's own parts together -- one imagines an England without Scotland, Ireland or Wales asserting power over Germany because, presumably, Germany cannot look after itself? Perhaps England can look to the Raj and see about prosecuting spousal abuse in Pakistan?

Regardless, it is a crazy suggestion because (1) the Pope is an Head of State and immune -- regardless of what the UN says, the Vatican is a State; (2) even if the Pope did turn a blind eye to priestly abuse that does not qualify as a crime against humanity; and (3) it would be a splendid way to reignite the troubles in Ireland and make Roman Catholics realize they aren't really welcome in Great Britain.

Perhaps the last point is the most important but imagine the world reaction to the Pope in an English jail -- it's too absurd to contemplate.

Hitchens, Dawkins try for pope's arrest during U.K. visit
Joseph Brean, National Post Published: Sunday, April 11, 2010

A movement to arrest Pope Benedict XVI for international crimes against humanity when he arrives in Britain later this year went noisily public on Sunday, as celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins denied a report that he personally vowed to make the arrest.

Just as former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested at a London hospital on a Spanish warrant under the novel legal concept of "universal jurisdiction," lawyers are assembling the case that Pope Benedict could be held on charges of crimes against humanity, specifically child sexual slavery.

The Sunday Times called it a planned "ambush" that could embarrass the British government and force an awkward confrontation with the courts over diplomatic immunity. Internationally, the Vatican is treated as a sovereign state for many purposes, including the signing of treaties, but its legal status is uncertain, and it sits at the United Nations only as an observer.

On his blog on Sunday, Prof. Dawkins denied telling The Sunday Times anything so "personally grandiloquent" as wanting to slap the cuffs on the pontiff himself, but he expressed
wholehearted support for the idea, which he credits to fellow deity slayer Christopher Hitchens.
Prof. Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist who has described the Roman Catholic Church as a "profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution," wrote on his blog that he was "especially intrigued" by the challenge of the Pope's presumed diplomatic immunity as a sovereign head of state.

Likewise, Mr. Hitchens, the British-born American writer, was quoted in news reports as saying the Pope "is not above or outside the law. The institutionalized concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment."

The Pope plans to visit Britain in September, visiting London, Glasgow and Coventry.

Also see:

Catholics may just have to sit out this anti-Papal media frenzy


The Mound of Sound said...

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Sovereign immunity? Gee I don't know. Maybe ask Louise Arbour about that.

Crimes against humanity? I think that the kid-diddling of thousands of children while the Church looked the other way (enabling its continuation) is arguably a crime against humanity.

Besides Joe Ratzinger's personal involvement seems to have occured when he was a lowly Cardinal - no sovereign immunity there that I can see.

I think they should arrest the old fart even if they'll release him after a week or two. Do him and the rest of his kind in the Vatican a world of good. Then you can market the video of the pope in police bracelets doing the "perp walk."

Anonymous said...

You just dont want the Pope arrested because it allows you to hide your Isreali war criminals

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't you realize that the Pope is a flesh and bones man? He's not God.

He worked his way up the religious corporate ladder.

The whole system Pope, etc. is a "man-made" institution.

Good grief - a crime is a crime.

Anonymous said...

The pope should be held accountable, regardless of his title. Let’s not forget, Ratzinger was personally involved in covering up these atrocities against these children. This is not a man of God, or a man who represents God, this is a man who should be ashamed of himself! Absolutely disgusting!

Anonymous said...

So Britain cannot use concepts of universal jurisdiction to hold the Pope accountable because Scotland might separate. Because that would make Britain smaller than Germany, for example. Lame. That doesn’t begin to make sense.

Anything that stands a chance of getting Henry Kissinger behind bars is okay by me. That guy is a thug.


James C Morton said...

My point on universal sovereignty was rather this -- it applies to countries that believe they are entitled to impose their will worldwide. I dont see that is right for what's left of the UK.

Anonymous said...

".... even today Roman Catholics are barred from becoming the Head of State of the United Kingdom (or Canada). "

This statement while technically accurate is misleading. There is no indigenous head of state in Canada and the "surrogate"position (GG) has no such limitation. Are you promoting the idea that Canada is anti-catholic.

michael st.paul's

The Rat said...

Is Canada anti-Catholic? Ummm, yes it is. Canada has a state religion. Eat that all you dorks claiming separation of church and state in Canada. To paraphrase a notorious goober "the separation of church and state is an American concept and so I give it no weight". The fact is Canada has a head of state that is barred by law from practicing the religion of millions of Canadians. Canada's head of state is in fact the head of the Church of England. The Church of England separated from the Catholic Church because a certain Henry couldn't keep his schlong in his pants.

James C Morton said...


I think it is a problem -- the Act of Succession does bar those of Catholic Blood from being Head of State -- and I think that is disgrace. But, fair is fair we have had many Catholic GG's

Fish said...

We're talking about some pretty serious crimes here James. If the evidence is strong enough he should be tried.

Gene Rayburn said...

I dont think Ive ever heard the creation of the COE put in such longshoreman type prose as The Rat just did.

Maybe we could have him reimagine some Shakespeare just for kicks.

Downes said...

OK, fine, you've spoken out against the idea of arresting the Pope.

Now, why not speak out against his sanction and support for those in his employ who have made a career of abusing children? Or maybe that's too controversial a position...?

James C Morton said...

Downes, not too contoversial at all. I don't know what the precise facts are but regardless the Pope had the responsibility when at least two priests were shuffled about not not turned over to the police. And that is terrible. The later steps taken by this Pope are good but his earlier inaction should have been acknowledged immediately and expressly repudiated.

James C Morton said...

Downes, not too contoversial at all. I don't know what the precise facts are but regardless the Pope had the responsibility when at least two priests were shuffled about not not turned over to the police. And that is terrible. The later steps taken by this Pope are good but his earlier inaction should have been acknowledged immediately and expressly repudiated.

Anonymous said...

"...But, fair is fair we have had many Catholic GG's"

More to the point, James, in the 20th century Canada had more Catholic PM's than than not, I believe.

michael st.paul's

Anonymous said...

Reply to James Morton:

So the problem isn't with universal jurisdiction?

Only that the UK shouldn't because Scotland might separate, someday ...

I’m still not getting it. And I’m not getting into Grotus (sp?).

Spain also has regional independence movements but that hasn’t stopped Spanish judges from issuing international arrest warrants. Is it wrong to try and bring a monster like Pinochet to justice? Or Kissinger? How else to do it? Or should justice only be reserved for those like Milosevic who lack a state’s protection?

The thing is dominate ‘western’ states or agents have been acting as if they had universal jurisdiction since at least the Habsburg Emperor Charles I (builder of el Escorial). I name him because he headed the first in a long line of (almost) modern states who could envision controlling the known world – and he acted as if controlling the world, as principle defender of the Catholic Church, was his right – as it was in the opinion of the Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic Church, arising from the remnants of the Roman Empire might be the real source of western concepts relating to universal jurisdiction.

The British Empire at one time declared war on the slave trade, issues of national sovereignty and the Treaty of Westphalia be damned. It was a moral issue.

What is the UN’s declaration of Human Rights but a statement of universal jurisdiction? We in the west decided that humans everywhere were entitled to a specific set of rights, regardless of culture, religion or context. I believe human rights are a good thing, of course, but I’m not blind to what universal declarations ‘mean’. We are claiming jurisdiction over humans everywhere.

We use IMF bailouts as a means to strong-arm states into accepting western notions of corporate governance demonstrate Western claims of universal jurisdiction in economic matters. We claim we understand economics better. Our version of economics works better, just as our version of human rights works better than, say, the Islamic one.

If a state sins too much against our free trade orthodoxy that state might get threatened with a trade war. That I believe western principles of liberal economics generally work better than the alternatives doesn’t change the fact ‘we’ are telling everyone else in the world what to do. That many of them agree is beside the point.

Canada has long been a champion of the UN and its different agencies because Canada believed in universal concepts like human rights; and, specifically, that a global community based on transparent and fair jurisprudence was preferable to a world where might made right. From Canada’s point of view this was especially true in trade matters.

Universal jurisdiction to investigate and act over alleged cases of war crimes or crimes against humanity are an important part of creating an international community based on rational, transparent argument rather than who has the most tanks.


Anyong said...

Most of the PM's in Canada have been Roman Catholic. What are you trying to start here James? Sounds to me as if you have been indoctronated in RC History written by the RC Church in promoting their rightous untruths. Remember, the highest majority of children that have been molested by priests in Britian has been in Ireland. The Pope needs to be accountable for what has been going on in the RC Church for a very long time. Children who have been molested are damaged for the rest of their lives. Priests who have molested children have committed human right violations no matter what the law says. Any decent mother will agree. I am adamant from personal experience within my family. If priests are so very desparate they can diddle each other.

Stereotypes don't rule, ok? said...

Your comments about re-igniting the troubles in NI, methinks you are oversimplifying the situation to an unforgivable degree, there was a bomb detonated in NI earlier this month, because the situation is far more about sovereignty than religion these days.

I was born a Catholic in London, went to a United Reformed Church, and the whole idea there is some kind of 'Anti-Catholic' agenda in the UK is taking the statements of two outspoken critics of religion in general, and applying it to the entire populace, after all we all know that Canadian speak French and spend all winter hibernating with bears, when they aren't being lumberjacks, don't we?

If someone is accused of committing a crime, surely the more humane thing to do is investigate that possibility, rather than think up reasons why he shouldn't be arrested in the first place? I can understand the confusion and dischord that might produce, but, it is like Jesus and the Pharises, to quote Matthew 23:

'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.'

So, yes, I can understand your concerns, but the situation you describe this taking place in is based around the words of two people. Do I think the Pope should be accountable for his Priests, to a degree, yes, he is the head of his Church and should take some responsiblity, should he be arrested, that's a harder question to answer, but it should not be decided by whether he is immune, but rather by whether he is guilty.

Finally, with regards to the 'Head of State' law, I can only direct you to this report:

And, in particular, this quote:

There has never been a Roman Catholic prime minister of Britain, although there is no constitutional barrier to such a move.