There is an interesting article in today’s UK Guardian that states the position now being taken by Geoffrey Robertson QC, the lawyer engaged to seriously consider a legal challenge against the pope. His book, “The Case of the Pope”, is published tomorrow, so unless you have been living on MARS for the past five years, I’m sure you can guess what it says. Here are a couple of choice quotes …
The system of law operated by the Vatican has allowed serious sex offenders to escape punishment and must be abandoned …
“Canon law has been allowed to trump criminal law in countries throughout the world. This is a very serious matter‚ the pope through his pretensions to statehood refuses to acknowledge that child sex abuse is a serious crime as well as a sin.
“The Catholic church must abandon canon law as a punishment for priests who commit crimes.”
Now there resides the key problem. They truly do believe themselves to be above and beyond the law, and have acted upon that belief to protect numerous abusers. They quite literally make up their own rules.
The church’s form of law, Robertson argues, “has no public hearings, no DNA test facilities, no enforcement mechanism, and the most severe punishments – excommunication or an order to return to the laity (without entry on a sex offenders’ register) – bears no comparison with the sentences of imprisonment or community service that can be expected under criminal law.”
He describes the penalties as “derisory”, with those found guilty of molesting children required to undergo “chiefly spiritual exercises”.
What is truly sickening is that the cloak of “belief” has granted them a get-out-of-jail-free card. They claim to be the keepers of ultimate morality, but are in reality quite morally barren, yet persist with the thought that a long tradition of delusional belief in an imaginary friend gives them the right to flout the law. Remember, these are the folks who consider factual disclosures of abuse to be petty gossip.
Robertson also argues that the pope cannot legally be considered a head of state and, therefore, covered by diplomatic immunity. The lawyer is highly critical of the British government, which he accuses of failing to understand the international law surrounding sovereignty.
The UK is one of several countries that recognises the sovereignty of the Vatican and the Holy See based on the 1929 Lateran treaty signed by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
“This is nonsense,” Robertson told the Guardian. “The Lateran treaty says nothing of the sort, and even if it did the UK would not be bound, since it was not a party.
In other words, the Vatican’s defense against prosecution is that the Pope is head of a state … so if you orchestrate the cover up of a abuse on a Global scale then that’s OK, as long as you are the head of some state … Yea right, that truly is holding high moral ground all right …
Robertson argues that even if the Vatican is considered a state, there is still the possibility of an arrest for crimes against humanity under the jurisdiction of the court.
Even if the British Government itself has no sense of justice, at least Mr Robertson does.