Skip to comments.Growing protest against Pope's UK visit
Posted on 04/04/2010 6:30:41 PM PDT by myknowledge
Protests are growing against Pope Benedict XVI's planned trip to Britain, where some lawyers question whether the Vatican's implicit statehood status should shield the Pope from prosecution over sex crimes by pedophile priests.
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition on Downing Street's website against the pope's four-day visit to England and Scotland in September, which will cost UK taxpayers an estimated STG15 million ($A25 million). The campaign has gained momentum as more Catholic sex abuse scandals have swept across Europe.
Although Benedict has not been accused of any crime, senior British lawyers are now examining whether the pontiff should have immunity as a head of state and whether he could be prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction for an alleged systematic cover-up of sexual abuses by priests.
Universal jurisdiction - a concept in international law - allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live. British judges are more open to the concept than those elsewhere.
Lawyers are divided over the immunity issue. Some say the Vatican isn't a true state, while others note the Vatican has national relations with about 170 countries, including Britain. The Vatican is also the only non-member to have permanent observer status at the UN.
Then again, no other top religious leaders enjoy the same UN privileges or immunity, so why should the pope?
David Crane, former chief prosecutor at the Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal, said it would be difficult to implicate the pope in anything criminal.
"It's a fascinating kind of academic, theoretical discussion," said Crane, who prosecuted Sierra Leone's Charles Taylor when he was head of state. "At this point, there's no liability at all."
But Geoffrey Robertson, who as a UN appeals judge delivered key decisions on the illegality of conscripting child soldiers and the invalidity of amnesties for war crimes, believes it could be time to challenge the immunity of the pope. He wrote a legal opinion on the topic that was published on Friday by the US news site The Daily Beast and on Saturday in the British newspaper the Guardian.
"Unlike in the United States, where the judges commonly uphold what the executive says, the British courts don't accept these things at face value," Robertson told AP. "The Vatican is not a state - it was a construct of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini."
But Jeffrey Lena, the California lawyer who argued - and won - head of state immunity for Benedict in US sex abuse cases, told AP: "Those who would claim that 'universal jurisdiction' could be asserted over the Pope appear to completely misunderstand the sorts of violations, such as genocide, which are required to assert such jurisdiction."
The law principle is rooted in the belief that certain crimes - such as genocide, war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity - are so serious that they are an offence against humanity and must be addressed.
If British judges do challenge the pope's immunity, there are a handful of possible legal scenarios - all of them speculative.
The pope could be served for a writ for civil damages, a complaint could be lodged with the International Criminal Court, or abuse victims could try to have Benedict arrested for crimes against humanity - perhaps the least likely scenario.
Robertson is more in favour of challenging the immunity question.
"Head of state immunity provides no protection in the International Criminal Court," said Robertson. "If acts of sexual abuse by priests are not isolated or sporadic events but part of a wide practice both known to and unpunished by their de facto-authority - ie the Catholic church... then the commander can be held criminally liable," Robertson said.
The pope plans to visit Malta, Portugal and Cyprus before travelling to Britain on September 16. A trip to Spain is planned for later in the autumn.
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition against Pope Benedict XVI's planned trip to the UK.
Is there a good reason to ban the pope from visiting the UK?
It comes under the heading of tolerance, diversity and multiculturalism.
One could see this coming. It is all part of the plan. Notice that the effete archbishop was shooting off his mouth.
I would guess if the British were stupid enough to arrest the Pope, then I would predict that Catholics would see this as an act of war and worldwide would start hunting down British bureaucrats.
England is already experiencing the wrath of God in being given over to the muslim horde which will devour it. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Nobody has any respect for anybody or anything any more.
Okayyyyy, now 10,000 Euro-bitches get to decide for everyone else, uhm, are these the same bunch of Homo-Leninists which pushed global warm ukum I mean climate change sorry, its now just called the cyclical weather. Too much hypocritical, tard and irrational thinking goin’on here. Has anyone seen any UK shows lately, most promote butt boy behavior and life styles. How about they deal with real problems, and go after those individuals directly responsible for the crimes they claim exist. Or should this be applied to Islam also.
“Universal jurisdiction - a concept in international law - allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live.”
Absurd. Either we have nations, or we don’t. And if not, then a Spanish court can charge an American soldier for deeds he is accused of in Iraq.
If we are a sovereign nation, then no foreign court has jurisdiction over one of our citizens, for acts not committed in that nation. (And nations used to enforce their sovereignty with gunboats, if necessary.)
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Being banned from Britain is becoming a badge of honor.
I say that with sadness, since I have always been an Anglophile.
It is an attack against Christianity and Christ during Easter and nothing else.
Thank you for saving me Jesus.
“One could see this coming. It is all part of the plan.”
(And after the BIG church is broken, it will next be the turn of the little churches, who are right now keeping silent, except for one Lutheran in the US who came out and stoutly defended Benedict.)
“First they came for the Jews... “ etc.
Damn those who would defile the papacy...
You mean besides the fact that he is innocent of any wrongdoing?
Is it appropriate to ask:
Are the athiest Jewish left literally, attempting to destroy the Pope?
Sure seems that way to this observer... perhaps the Church should stop apologizing so much (saw that happened again just today), and push back against what is increasingly looking like a deliberate religious attack.
As also should, the GOP.
Why is our side the only one, who are always apologizing?
And how has that worked out, so far?
During the first half of the 20th Century, the term Jailed By the British (JBB) was a badge of honour. Men like Gandhi and Kenyatta wore it proudly. Now that England has attained second world status and is relentlessly pursuing third world status, being banned from Britain is akin to being banned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the 1990s.
That one's going to get batted about a bit on FR, I'd imagine.
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