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Pope Immunity: Vatican Will Protect Benedict From Sexual Abuse Prosecution

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Pope Immunity: Vatican Will Protect Benedict From Sexual Abuse Prosecution

Reuters | By Philip Pullella Posted: 02/17/2013 10:10 pm EST | Updated: 02/17/2013 10:54 pm EST

(Reuters) - Pope Benedict's decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.

"His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn't have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else," said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It is absolutely necessary" that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a "dignified existence" in his remaining years.

Vatican sources said officials had three main considerations in deciding that Benedict should live in a convent in the Vatican after he resigns on February 28.

Vatican police, who already know the pope and his habits, will be able to guarantee his privacy and security and not have to entrust it to a foreign police force, which would be necessary if he moved to another country.

"I see a big problem if he would go anywhere else. I'm thinking in terms of his personal security, his safety. We don't have a secret service that can devote huge resources (like they do) to ex-presidents," the official said.

Another consideration was that if the pope did move permanently to another country, living in seclusion in a monastery in his native Germany, for example, the location might become a place of pilgrimage.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE

This could be complicated for the Church, particularly in the unlikely event that the next pope makes decisions that may displease conservatives, who could then go to Benedict's place of residence to pay tribute to him.

"That would be very problematic," another Vatican official said.

The final key consideration is the pope's potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandals.

In 2010, for example, Benedict was named as a defendant in a law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a U.S. school for the deaf decades earlier. The lawyers withdrew the case last year and the Vatican said it was a major victory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abusive priests.

Benedict is currently not named specifically in any other case. The Vatican does not expect any more but is not ruling out the possibility.

"(If he lived anywhere else) then we might have those crazies who are filing lawsuits, or some magistrate might arrest him like other (former) heads of state have been for alleged acts while he was head of state," one source said.

Another official said: "While this was not the main consideration, it certainly is a corollary, a natural result."

After he resigns, Benedict will no longer be the sovereign monarch of the State of Vatican City, which is surrounded by Rome, but will retain Vatican citizenship and residency.

LATERAN PACTS

That would continue to provide him immunity under the provisions of the Lateran Pacts while he is in the Vatican and even if he makes jaunts into Italy as a Vatican citizen.

The 1929 Lateran Pacts between Italy and the Holy See, which established Vatican City as a sovereign state, said Vatican City would be "invariably and in every event considered as neutral and inviolable territory".

There have been repeated calls for Benedict's arrest over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

When Benedict went to Britain in 2010, British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins asked authorities to arrest the pope to face questions over the Church's child abuse scandal.

Dawkins and the late British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens commissioned lawyers to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope. Their efforts came to nothing because the pope was a head of state and so enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

In 2011, victims of sexual abuse by the clergy asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the pope and three Vatican officials over sexual abuse.

The New York-based rights group Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and another group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), filed a complaint with the ICC alleging that Vatican officials committed crimes against humanity because they tolerated and enabled sex crimes.

The ICC has not taken up the case but has never said why. It generally does not comment on why it does not take up cases.

NOT LIKE A CEO

The Vatican has consistently said that a pope cannot be held accountable for cases of abuse committed by others because priests are employees of individual dioceses around the world and not direct employees of the Vatican. It says the head of the church cannot be compared to the CEO of a company.

Victims groups have said Benedict, particularly in his previous job at the head of the Vatican's doctrinal department, turned a blind eye to the overall policies of local Churches, which moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them and handing them over to authorities.

The Vatican has denied this. The pope has apologized for abuse in the Church, has met with abuse victims on many of his trips, and ordered a major investigation into abuse in Ireland.

But groups representing some of the victims say the Pope will leave office with a stain on his legacy because he was in positions of power in the Vatican for more than three decades, first as a cardinal and then as pope, and should have done more.

The scandals began years before the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 but the issue has overshadowed his papacy from the beginning, as more and more cases came to light in dioceses across the world.

As recently as last month, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, was stripped by his successor of all public and administrative duties after a thousands of pages of files detailing abuse in the 1980s were made public.

Mahony, who was archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 until 2011, has apologized for "mistakes" he made as archbishop, saying he had not been equipped to deal with the problem of sexual misconduct involving children. The pope was not named in that case.

In 2007, the Los Angeles archdiocese, which serves 4 million Catholics, reached a $660 million civil settlement with more than 500 victims of child molestation, the biggest agreement of its kind in the United States.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope "gave the fight against sexual abuse a new impulse, ensuring that new rules were put in place to prevent future abuse and to listen to victims. That was a great merit of his papacy and for that we will be grateful".

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by Robin Pomeroy; Edited by Simon Robinson and Giles Elgood)

by on Feb. 19, 2013 at 9:36 AM
Replies (21-30):
LucyMom08
by Gold Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 11:25 AM
If we showed these perverts that there were real consequences for this appalling behavior then things might change. As of now, they do whatever they want and there is no incentive to stop. Throw these dirtbags in jail where they belong.

Quoting annabl1970:

 


AGREE.


It's like "preventive measure"


Quoting LucyMom08:

I think he should be prosecuted anyway. Make an example and legal precedent of him...he's no longer 'Head of State', why should he be afforded extraneous courtesy?



 

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
ms.sophsmom
by Silver Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 11:26 AM
This... And I was talking about this yesterday. I cannot believe that people in power, who we are meant to trust are the ones harming our kids and harming us. Disgusting. Very unholy.. Not very God like at all. If he is not punished in life it will happen after.

Quoting ashellbell:

That's just disturbing. What a bunch of assholes. No to gay marriage, yes to hiding the sexual abuse of small children. Seems legit.
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM

 

100% AGREE

Quoting LucyMom08:

If we showed these perverts that there were real consequences for this appalling behavior then things might change. As of now, they do whatever they want and there is no incentive to stop. Throw these dirtbags in jail where they belong.

Quoting annabl1970:

 


AGREE.


It's like "preventive measure"


Quoting LucyMom08:

I think he should be prosecuted anyway. Make an example and legal precedent of him...he's no longer 'Head of State', why should he be afforded extraneous courtesy?

 


 


 

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM
1 mom liked this

 

I really hope.

Quoting ms.sophsmom:

This... And I was talking about this yesterday. I cannot believe that people in power, who we are meant to trust are the ones harming our kids and harming us. Disgusting. Very unholy.. Not very God like at all. If he is not punished in life it will happen after.

Quoting ashellbell:

That's just disturbing. What a bunch of assholes. No to gay marriage, yes to hiding the sexual abuse of small children. Seems legit.


 

ashellbell
by shellbark on Feb. 19, 2013 at 3:57 PM
1 mom liked this
Seriously, though, where's the outrage? Why do people seem to not care when it comes to the pope? Could you imagine if this was Obama or even Bush? Why are people turning their eye to the catholic churches corrupt activity? Innocent men don't need immunity.
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM

 

True. I expected more responses.

Quoting ashellbell:

Seriously, though, where's the outrage? Why do people seem to not care when it comes to the pope? Could you imagine if this was Obama or even Bush? Why are people turning their eye to the catholic churches corrupt activity? Innocent men don't need immunity.


 

mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 4:04 PM
1 mom liked this

 This - I find this story absolutely stomach turning - I know catholics don't believe in Karma the think they can ask for forgiveness and all is good - but I don't think it works that way.


Quoting romalove:


Quoting Woodbabe:

Wow, makes me really wonder what kind of evidence they have on him!

Yep


 

romalove
by Roma on Feb. 19, 2013 at 4:08 PM


Quoting mikiemom:

 This - I find this story absolutely stomach turning - I know catholics don't believe in Karma the think they can ask for forgiveness and all is good - but I don't think it works that way.


Quoting romalove:


Quoting Woodbabe:

Wow, makes me really wonder what kind of evidence they have on him!

Yep



When this first broke I wondered aloud if there wasn't something else going on.  The idea that he's not well enough to "Pope" when all the other Popes for hundreds of years could do so did not sit well with me.

Very sad for the faithful.

ashellbell
by shellbark on Feb. 19, 2013 at 4:09 PM
1 mom liked this
It's sickening, isn't it? The majority of my fathers side is catholic, their response? Let's see what comes to surface.


Really!!??

The man has immunity. There's only one of two things that this means. He either covered up child molestation or he molested them himself. Nasty son of a bitch. He deserves prison. All of them do.


Quoting annabl1970:

 


True. I expected more responses.


Quoting ashellbell:

Seriously, though, where's the outrage? Why do people seem to not care when it comes to the pope? Could you imagine if this was Obama or even Bush? Why are people turning their eye to the catholic churches corrupt activity? Innocent men don't need immunity.



 


Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Feb. 19, 2013 at 4:09 PM

 

They would prefer we stop talking about thank you. Don't you know telling the truth about the abuse scandals is seen by a few in this forum as attacking their faith.

Quoting ashellbell:

Seriously, though, where's the outrage? Why do people seem to not care when it comes to the pope? Could you imagine if this was Obama or even Bush? Why are people turning their eye to the catholic churches corrupt activity? Innocent men don't need immunity.


 

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