Should the Pope face charges?

A renowned lawyer makes the case that the Pope should have his day in court for harbouring pedophiles

Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

God in the Dock, meaning God on trial, is a familiar concept in Britain, both from the title of a famous collection of essays by C.S. Lewis and as a general term for skepticism about religious belief and doctrine. But Pope in the Dock? Literally? Perhaps not in our lifetimes, as British lawyer Geoffrey Robertson concedes in The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, a book set to appear just one week before Benedict XVI makes the first-ever papal state visit to Britain. But, Robertson argues, the once unthinkable idea that Benedict or a successor could be charged with obstructing justice or for “harbouring pedophile priests” is now very thinkable, and—given evolving trends in international human rights law—may soon be practical.

The plain facts of the case to be answered are horrific and undeniable. Since the dam crumbled around the turn of the decade, a cascade of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy has come tumbling into the open. So many cases emerged that the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference commissioned an expert study, which concluded in 2004 that, since 1950, 10,667 individuals had made plausible allegations against 4,392 priests, 4.3 per cent of the entire body of clergy in that period. The total bill in settlements with victims is spiralling toward $2 billion and won’t stop, Forbes predicts, this side of $5 billion. Depressingly similar stories from other First World countries, including Canada, soon emerged; the situation in Latin America and Africa, where no investigations have ever been made, can only be imagined.

All that is but half of Robertson’s case. And for the former president of the UN War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone and author of a landmark judgment on the illegality of recruiting child soldiers, it’s actually the lesser half. Any institution can have criminal employees; what matters is its awareness of and response to their illicit acts. Church legislation against clerical sexual abuse dates back to the fourth century, and in 1952 Gerald Fitzgerald, the American founder of the Paraclete order, which treats erring priests of all sorts, brought a specific warning to Rome. “Leaving pedophile priests on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese,” he said, was a moral evil and a scandal waiting to break.

But for another half century they were usually left on duty or shuffled about, without warning to their flocks, new or old. The Church dealt with its offenders in secret via a parallel system of justice, its own canon law, as overseen by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, itself overseen by cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from 1981 until he became Pope Benedict in 2005. Insofar, that is, that the Church dealt with them at all. Penalties, in comparison with secular law, were negligible, ranging from spiritual exercises (extra prayers mainly) to the canon law’s ultimate “degradation”: being returned to the lay state. A church dedicated—in its best incarnation—to the belief that the worst sinners can be saved, and—in its worst mode—to avoiding scandal, did what came naturally to it, what Fitzgerald had warned against.

From New York, confessed molesters were sent to Africa, as they were from Italy, Germany and Ireland. More often they simply moved next door. The archbishop of Dublin, faced with 46 cases of known pedophile priests, reported none to the police, and instead dispatched them to new parishes in full awareness of the risk to children—an awareness made plain by the 1987 purchase of insurance policies to cover future claims.

Canada offers a particularly clear case of Church cover-up. In 1993 the bishop of Pembroke in Ontario wrote the papal nuncio—the Vatican’s ambassador to Canada—about his willingness to see a child molester’s quiet removal to Rome. Some of his victims were starting to talk; luckily, they were “of Polish descent and their respect for the priesthood and the Church has made them refrain from laying charges.” The priest, Bernard Prince, a long-time friend of John Paul II, was a key Canadian channel to the Polish pope. (In Céline Dion’s autobiography, there is a photo of Prince introducing her to John Paul in 1984.) Church authorities managed to keep their devout Poles quiet until 2005, when police were finally informed. Thee years later, Prince, then 74, was found guilty of molesting 13 boys. He was defrocked in 2009, 15 years after the Vatican first learned of his crimes.

Any other institution, Robertson insists, would have been overwhelmed by civil monetary damages and criminal investigations. Sovereign immunity has so far saved the Catholic Church.

Not that Robertson thinks Vatican City is a genuine nation. He calls it a Santa Claus state—“no matter how many people believe in it, it doesn’t exist”—that somehow finagled its way into international forums, despite lacking the normal preconditions for statehood, notably a “permanent population.” But 80 years of exchanging representatives with world governments does mean precedence is in the Vatican’s favour, the jurist acknowledges. No matter, Robertson says: statehood is no longer the fortress of immunity it was, not eight years after the International Criminal Court began operations. Today a pope is as open as any other world leader to being brought before the ICC, the ultimate bastion of human rights law, charged with “command responsibility” for crimes against humanity.

The ICC is a court of last resort and throws up high barriers to having a case heard there. First, a nation state must show itself unwilling to prosecute. No problem there, Robertson reckons—the Vatican is hardly likely to bring its absolute monarch to trial. The case must be of “sufficient gravity.” Again, the jurist is sure the refusal to hand over criminal pedophiles to civil authorities satisfies the test. It must involve “a crime against humanity.” Article seven of the treaty setting up the ICC declares rape, sexual slavery and other sexual offences that are “part of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated by a government or de facto authority” to be exactly that sort of crime. Again, test passed. The defendant has to have been in command over subordinates engaged in such acts, aware of their crimes, and failed to have taken all reasonable and necessary steps to end them. Another pass.

But then, a potential roadblock. The signatories to the ICC treaty later endorsed an additional document titled “Elements of Crime,” which says the crimes in question must be in “furtherance of state or organizational policy.” Not even Robertson is prepared to argue that the church hierarchy desired the rape of children, however much their policies effectively allowed it.

(“Elements” was an American initiative, designed more to protect the likes of Henry Kissinger than Pope Benedict.) For Robertson the document is fundamentally inconsistent with provisions of the treaty that would allow for prosecution. He thinks the waters should be tested: an NGO, acting on behalf of abuse victims, could seek a preliminary ICC hearing, during which the court could consider whether it had jurisdiction. There are similar legal strategies, Robertson details, that he believes would allow successful civil suits against the Holy See, something that in the U.S. has been prevented by the Vatican’s sovereign-nation status, even as American dioceses are sued into bankruptcy.

In the end, Robertson comes back to prevailing reality. There is no chance, he writes with unstated regret, that Benedict will find himself in handcuffs a week after The Case of the Pope hits British bookshops. The idea is too new and shocking, and the Pope’s personal sanctity unquestioned. After all, as the author notes sardonically, the only two issues on which all three British party leaders agreed in the election debates in April were their complete opposition to papal teaching on homosexuality and abortion, and their sincere eagerness to welcome Benedict to Britain. But Robertson and other human rights jurists passionately believe not only that there is a case for Benedict to answer, but that the diplomatic immunity model of international relations needs to be replaced by a more moral legal order. They think the wind is at their backs, a wind strong enough to rattle stained-glass windows everywhere, and that someday soon not even a pope will be above the law.




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Should the Pope face charges?

  1. Where does the buck stop?

  2. Look at the statistics. Look at all the cover-ups. Look at the destroyed lives. Face reality. The Catholic church has no moral authority.

    • In an age of reason, no organization which claims to draw power from a supernatural source can claim any sort of authority.

      • Macleans issued an article last year sharing the statistics of how much sexual abuse and pedophilia was found within the Roman Catholic church. They found that the Catholic church has lower levels of both types of abuse then most other Industries. Of course any abuse at all is horrendously wrong but the finger constantly being pointed at the Catholic Church is unfair. If anything we need to keep the Church in our prayers at this time of scandal.

        • You said it right, the Catholic church is an “industry”, and as such, it has the same right to raping kids as any other.

          I guess this is the moral lesson thought in your church. You should be embarrassed..

        • You are dead wrong Neil S!

          For an "industry" that claims to be the throne of moral on Earth and our connection to Above our fingers should be pointing exactly and constantly at them.

          This happened *within the church* How is praying for the church going to help the future victims of abuse that will undoubtedly suffer as much and as long as the prior victims.

          You are blind and cowardly for not taking action but instead put your faith in those who have already failed with horrendous consequences. God damn it. The rape of of children. Do not just pray. Bring them to justice!

          • Of course the abuse that happened is horrendously wrong and can not be tolerated and any priest who sexually abused someone or helped cover it up should face charges. But to say that "the Catholic Church has no moral authority" is idiotic because of how much good is in the Church still today.

          • Neil S., the church has done next-to-nothing to resolve this issue unless you can call relocation and cover-ups resolutions. the priests are operating under the authority of the church. the church claims "moral authority" over millions of people. please explain how you justify your statement "to say that "the Catholic Church has no moral authority is idiotic ". As I understand it, doing good is not a justification for inflicting harm on innocent children.

        • the catholic church is evil

    • amen to that!!

  3. The Catholic church behaves like a criminal organization. One of its main goals seems to be the provision of young boys to the priests. The pope, cardinals and bishops need to be tried for sex crimes.

    • You paint with a pretty wide brush.

    • It is nonsense that Christians are being seen as an active force holding society back from modernity. Needless to say I recognize that there are some radical fundamental institutions that try to exert their religious influence on to politicians and the media, but why is it that only Christians are. Every time I turn on the television some Priest has is another pedophile, and these news reports then take these acts further as if it is some hidden conspiracy hidden within this institutions. And people are buying this nonsense. I'm a Catholic, and lately that is perceived by others as a negative thing to be. For you see, I must be ignorant, I must obviously hate homosexuals, science is nothing but sinister trickery, and women should be barefoot and breastfeeding, let alone be employed. I'm a racist, and intolerant of other people's faith. All my arguments should be swayed off as if nothing but ignorance because of course there is some sort of religious underpinning. Let alone Catholics, all Christians are seen as hypocritical bigots. And who would be surprised that we've come to this perception when the only time Christians are identified as a separate entity from the bulk of society is when you see these opposition protests for gay marriage. The only time you'll hear about the Pope is when it has something to do with condoms, or some some flabbergasted statement that he doesn't like Jews because he's German. This is mass madness, and it is scary that this is going on. Why is our media outlets attacking this institution so harshly? What is their intention?

      • The media is shining light on some dark spaces in the church. The church leadership is the problem, not the individual members. All religions are flawed, mostly due to poor leadership.

        • yeah i suppose you're right the media is a shinning light. The same media that tells us there were bombs in Iraq, the same media who tells us there is some bearded man on dialysis in cave who doesn't like Americans. The same media who will get you all hyped up over bird flus, y2k's, and evil Iranians. yes of course the media really does bring us out of our caves. What are horrible world it would be if there was no corporate media, how lost and ignorant we'd all be.

          • I think all the hype you suggest was manifested by our governments, the press just printed what they were given.

          • gosh i have a lot of typos but whatever,
            but it appears to me that if the press is nothing but an open mouth for the gov't to shove info down, then i think the "free" press is failing in its obligation to the people, and removing one of the corner stones of our democracy.

          • The Catholic Church has admitted that this has been going on, hence the payouts, and internal documents have clearly shown that the higher-ups were very aware of what was going on, particularly the current Pope.

            But you think that the media reporting on an institution that has enabled thousands of pedophiles to molest tens of thousands of children isn't news worthy?

            I'm no cheerleader of today's media, but this isn't a concerted effort to get at Catholics, it's merely the reporting of shocking facts which are most certainly of public interest. This can't get too much coverage, IMO.

          • "the press just printed what they were given. " Therein lies much of the problem. "News" these days consists of press releases, propaganda and paparazzi prattle. Very little actual investigation takes place. And when they get it wrong, corrections get nowhere near the coverage the false story received.

          • I guess we should NEVER trust the media then. They've been wrong before.

            Talk about making the perfect, the enemy of the good.

      • Some of that doctrine that you are upset about holding the RCC to account for, is extremely harmful.

        Just to take the condom example, how many deaths has that been an accessory too?

        I don't hold every Catholic responsible for such doctrine. But those Catholics who choose to defend church dogma that amounts to mass murder, don't get a free pass from me, in the name of faith.

        Also the systematic cover-up of the rape and torture of children is hideous. It's not so much the crime that has people going after the RCC, it's the cover-up.

        • condom issue, another blow out of proportion and delicately misconstrued incident, Pope Benedict never condemned the use of condoms, he said I don't believe condoms will solve the issue- which is true. The heart of the problems lies in the decayed society that undeveloped Africa is in, which is really our western foot print, but whatever.

          They're not covering up anything, it's the media who paints the picture as if its a cover up. The Church does not have some secret program set up for priests to go into hiding when they have committed an act such as this. Like has anyone here worked at a Church? They're "normal" rational thinking people no different from you and I. But no, no one has, we all base this mumbo jumbo off of articles like these, it's nonsense. The same thing is going on with many male doctors. Many male doctors are being prosecuted for charges such as sexual assault and pedophilia. And the news is very sure to have that as the front page and exploit the hell of it. The man's condemned before he's tried by the public. We hunger for murder, and are bored of the such sacred virtue: innocent before proven guilty. It seems we like it the other way. ANd the true irony that lies at the bottom of this, is that when these men are acquitted years later as their so called victims confess, the news is very sure to keep those stories either untold or tucked away nicely on the back of page 10 in the paper. And no you'd never see such stories make front page for Maclean's. Is it a conspiracy? No by all means no! What's going on- is going on. The news is writing BS articles about the Church. If you wanna know about the Church don't read that paper, get off your ass and go visit a Church, it will put a human face to the boggy man the media likes to make, and most importantly let realize they're human beings, who devote their lives to making the COMMUNITY they work in a better place. Something we should all do, instead of casting cheap stones at one another.

          • No doubt in your mind you believe that the Pope only said, " I don't believe condoms will solve the issue".

            That's not what he said at all. He said (refering to AIDS in Africa), "a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems."

            He is clearly saying that condoms make the epidemic worse, which is wrong (factually and morally).

            Also, are you trying to tell me that Catholic doctrine is alright with condoms? Is that what those missonaries are teaching these days?

            You must think I'm a chump, if you expect me to buy that. I know differently, and not from the evil, biased media.

          • ok i didn't go get the quote but if you want to get into that you're right that is the quote let's look at that

            "a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems."

            This sentence is really exploited, really. We're not dumb. Everyone here knows that the Church condemns pre-martial sex. Why, because it believes that sex is something sacred because it is that act that ultimately gives way to human life- which to them is very sacred. So when you have an AIDS epidemic going in Africa- what is the Church going to say the problem is? The problem is people are not valuing their sexuality and sleeping with who ever, and not to mention the increase in men raping women, which to add I don't think in the rational of a rapist, he'll strap one on before he does his thing. And I do not think NGOs full of grad students can really fix that sort of mind set either. The Church values sexuality, because it values and upholds the dignity of each individual. Is that ideal so remote from us? He's right, condoms won't solve the problem it will only make it worse. If people just continually have a sloppy sex life- you're gona get something, and condoms really just allow you into that hunch. We may have different opinions- but should we really condemn that stance from them so harshly? I don't think so.

          • I believe it is RCC doctrine that a man and wife can't use condoms (without sinning) even if one of them is HIV positive.

            If this isn't tatamount to murder, what is?

            I have no problem condemning it in the strongest possible terms. Your churches "sacred cow" of forming policy which will ensure the most possible followers, has caused untold misery and death.

            If you condemn condom/birth control use as imperiling your imortal soul, then you are coercing people to choose a path that could well kill them. You are also using the ultimate reward'punishment set-up to do so. This is abhorent.

          • In all reality, I imagine more people are using condoms than before, and cannot possibly believe that Benedict's words were we really taken to heart, resulting in thousands of AIDs victims having sex now condomless (and yes I did make that word up) , driven by the fear of fire and brim.
            What an interesting world it would be though if it t'was. What about the other messages the Pope has stated? Have those been really taken in amongst the masses? You know like the ones about stoping the violence, or stop the petty material culture, or the messages about asking individuals to be more of themselves. No, the only messages that seem to be taken in, are the ones that are misconstrued to look as if it is making things worse. Sentences like our example above is turned into "you bastards better not wear condoms, or you're going to hell", but that's not what he's really saying. As I said above. Its about the dignity of the individual, with the respect we show towards them. The Church unlike many other things in society ask something more of ourselves, something that's not in our pockets, which is normally where we reach when somebody asks for something. No, the Church asks for something more, it seems that we just can't handle that. It's not about us being pissed off that they're threatening us that we're going to hell, on the contrary it is because we're too lazy to see the Truth. And that is to treat each other as we would want to be treated. Hence without a doubt I believe that if we respected each more in concerns to sexuality I think there would be less AIDs, and I would not whip an institution that advocates for something of that degree.

          • I doubt you'd "whip" the RCC, if it were run by the devil himself.

            Repressing sexuality in this manner, is far from respecting the rights/dignities of the individual. It's collectivist claptrap, where "Big Brother" watches you in even your most private moments. Excuse me if I don't find this a freeing concept filled with dignity.

            We agree that the church "asks for something more". I believe it asks us to deny our very humanity. Reqireing priests to be celebate males may, or may not lead to sexual abuse; But it certainly isn't natural. Repressing sex before marriage isn't really natural either. The church has to recognize that pre-marital sex will remain a fact of life, condoms or no.

            Denying this will lead to bad consequences, not least of which is the spread of STDs, and unwanted pregnancies. You would think the RCC could take a more holistic approach to this issue, but it does need for more Catholics to be born, so the doctrine stays.

          • So what were these "men" thinking ultimately then, when they chose to engage in sexual acts with other people's children?

            That they were doing something sacred?

            Maybe is that why the coverups were instated?

          • Will, you are denying the facts to try to uphold an organization that allowed the abuse of innocent children. These men will not be acquitted years later as their "so called victims" confess. What a truely insulting statement. Did you not read the part about over 10000 victims with plausable allegations? 10000 people are lying? Those are just the people who have come forward.

            My mother was asaulted by her priest over a number of years. As was her sister, and 2 cousins. None of these (now) women have come forward, but they have all suffered lifelong consequences due to the actions of an individual who they were supposed to be able to trust. And from a church who should have cared enough about them to protect them.

            So dont you dare talk about "so called victims"

      • My goodness Will, it must have felt great to get all that off your chest. If you continue to be a Catholic you will probably need many more unburdening sessions in the media to relieve you of whatever demons drove you to this missive.

        • why thank you Fred, it was the boring Saturday coincided with the convenience of having an ice cap that burdened me to write such a terribly written calamity. But if the internet isn't suppose to increase communication, then why are we all here. editorials or blogs or whatever you wanna call it, are the new pubs, city halls, salons if you will, where ideas are discussed. And i hope its the demons that drive us to write, otherwise it wouldn't be sincere now would it. Lol

      • Will you are absolutely right

    • right on

  4. For the sake of perspective, lets say some other organization faced the same scandals that the Catholic Church has seen in the last 30 years.

    Lets say at thousands of Starducks locations across the world, police found that employees had been molesting children. Not just one or two isolated cases, but repeated, multi generational abuses in virtually every city and town in the world.

    Starducks management responds not by seeking to end the abuses, but by simply transferring their baristas to different jurisdictions, making it more difficult for law enforcement to follow up on investigations and allegations.

    Now, they find the newly minted CEO of the organization has been connected to covering up of these investigations. In Belgium, authorities determine that at EVERY single Starducks location, their employees had been found to be molesting children.

    How would society be expected to respond? How would responsible authorities be expected to respond?

    • well lets take that exact example: Starbucks, my God this organization does commit horrible deeds in which you'll rarely every see the press draw the sword, (Heaven knows why). Starbucks undermines thousands of workers in the Latin America a descent wage, while selling their coffee for what 3 dollar, four dollars. The people that harvest the stuff don't nearly make that amount. Long term- this results in these underpaid workers seeking employment elsewhere, where there is money, and in that regions that's drugs. So Starbucks is a contributor to underdevelopment of Latin America, and once again rarely attacked by the press.

      pedophilia on the other is borderless and institution-less, it happens everywhere, married men, celibate man, atheists, imams rabbis, pastors, even woman, there is no correlation between celibate man and pedophilia FACT GO LOOK IT UP. In fact the studies have shown that there have been more married men then celibate men who have committed acts of pedophilia, BY RATIO. So once again be weary when the news tries to tell you that it is THIS SPECIFIC organization that is committing and hiding these acts. It is completely flabbergasted.

      Lets look at the Church. This institution laid down the foundations for this nation first off. Founded many academic institutions across the globe. Many of our universities in this country and in the States were founded by religious institutions. Harvard etc.

      I think i'll pick the Church over Starbucks.

      • You don't really address any of the pedeophile priests being moved around at Romes insistance, or the failure to report these monsters to police.

        That is the real battleground you should be prepared to defend. How does an infallible man make such mistakes?How can an organization that purports itself to be holy, systematically hide it's darkest sins?

      • Are you sure you want to defend the Catholic Church based on it's history? It's pretty checked, at best.

        Regardless though, if the CEO of Starbucks is guilty of any crimes, I hope he is prosecuted for them. You have not presented anything near a convincing argument of why known pedophiles and those who conspired not only to hide them from prosecution, but sent them off to new parishes with new unsuspecting victims, should be exempt from prosecution.

        Having done good things does not exempt anyone from responsibility for the bad things they've done. Arguing otherwise is morally and intellectually vacant.

      • So what you're saying is that it's okay for the Church to commit evil acts because others also do it? Last I checked, Starbucks does not claim moral authority. I'm sure the Church has done some good things here and there, but overall it is much more harmful than beneficial. And the good things it has done can be, and have been, done by non-religious organizations.

      • The point of celebacy was not even touched down upon in the article, so your bringing it up in relevance to the facts at hand bears no weight.

        Further to that, there is proof showing THIS SPECIFIC organization is committing and hiding these acts!

        No one is saying it is the Catholic church and all of its followers.

        That being said, when an organization-or people of influence within, and therefor acting on behalf of- go to the lengths at which these catholic preists and men of supposed hierarchy have; to cover up the sins of others (maybe as they had committed such themselves and had "soft spots" in their "hearts"?) and put the innocent at risk and directly in harms way- one must question the intentions of all involved.

        Back the doctrine that you believe in, fine.

        But I ask you in GODS name, please, DO NOT back these horrible men.

        and if I speak out of turn, and somehow they remain men doing the work of "God"-Then I want no part in that "Godliness".

      • Will you seem to still be avoiding the fact that your "church" is guilty period. Those within in it that have committed rape of children just as disgusting if not more than a lay person doing the same thing. Do you seriously think the church is above the law. Then frock you.

    • Im never drinking at starbucks again.

    • Well, in Starbuck's case, I would take my coffee addictions to Misters Maxwell and House, Tim Horton's, and/or Ronald McDonald. Hummmm…. not SUCH a good sideways move, no? But what can I do?

      In the Catholic Church's case….
      Simple: Do what most others do. Abandon ship! A human institution, founded by humans, run by humans, no longer meeting human needs. What do you do? You leave.

      What happened to GM Ford & Chrysler, when they failed to meet certain market needs? Their clients went elsewhere.

      Dinna ye worry lad, the Catholic Church will shortly face the same problems. One HOPES that there are no government bailouts this time! But, since governments are human, and failure prone, NOT to expect a bailout here, would be stupid. One will most likely happen, although we know not the form of it.

  5. Trashing the Catholic church is pathetic.

    Let's compare and contrast this with the other news going on right now, the Koran burning stunt. Muslims worldwide have harboured terrorist groups that have maimed and killed millions of people. Almost every single day there is an act of terrorism perpetrated by Muslims in the name of their religion somewhere in the world, whether in Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, the Middle East, the Caucasus, or elsewhere.

    Yet, nowhere do we see a condemnation of the highest levels of the Muslim faith. Should the Ayatollah face charges? Should the Canadian Islamic Congress face charges? No, instead we're fixated on a tiny little bonfire in Florida instead.

    • So do you think critcism of the "pedeophile priest shuffle" is out of line? Why, because muslims are worse?

      Try holding your church to a slightly higher standard, then being better then terrorists.

      • I'm not a Catholic. I'm not a Christian. I just happen to have a little perspective.

        • You have no pesrpective and you are a fool.

          • Such a good argument Pete. Priceless.

    • Muslims who have engaged in terrorism or aided those who do are generally arrested, or have warrants out for their arrest, often stating "dead or alive".

      There are no "highest levels of the Muslim faith". There is no Muslim equivalent of the Pope.

      And why should the CIC face charges? Do you have evidence that they are involved in terrorism? Of course you don't.

      And since when have Muslim terrorists maimed and killed millions of people? You're really giving them much more credit than they deserve.

      No one is condemning Catholics in the same way as you condemn Muslims. As I said in another post, I think that parishioners are victims of certain members of the Catholic hierarchy, who betrayed their faith and trust. I have never seen or heard a single person accuse ordinary Catholics of being involved in these heinous acts.

      If you fail to condemn these acts committed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, how are you any better than Muslims who will not condemn terrorism?

      Finally: Appeal to the bad deeds of others as a defence for someone else's actions is a pathetic argument. The fact that some people commit murder doesn't exclude others from prosecution for assault or theft, etc.

    • Why do you think the Muslim world is facing so much problems? They ignore that part of progression (or growing up) is to be self critical. Without that and if a country or institution always look outside for somebody or something else to blame, then forget about progress, let alone human rights, freedom, and democracy. With the Catholic Church's problem, there will be no solution if they don't look at what their church has become, their failings, and their culpability. Condemnation on Islamists actions is another subject and has nothing to do at all with what is going on with the Catholic Church. In short, grow up!

      • You should head to Muslim countries and tell them what their issues are. I'm sure they'd be grateful.

        • Wow, what a logic! If you want to see condemnation of Islam, look at other pages, not this page. If you look up and read the subject, this all about the Catholic Church's handling of Pedophelia. Pay attention!

        • Well someone here is a racist… Guess you didn't catch that this article has nothing to do with Islam. And honestly, nobody is "trashing" the Catholic Church. They're being held accountable, just like everyone else. Something often confused with "trashing" by people who are afraid of being embarrassingly caught in the wrong.

          So you're saying that, every pedophile that's been put on trial was "trashed"? Good god man, are you 10 years old!?

          • Sorry Pete (good God Pete!), I'm not gonna get in your playpen while you're having a temper tantrum. Maybe if you started making coherent arguments rather than childish and petulant rants, I'd pay attention. Instead, I think I'll listen to the pope, not a psychotic lunatic named Pete on a web site.

    • How did this topic, in your mind, become a discussion of Muslim misdeeds?

      Nice try, s_c_f

      But most of us are smart enough to notice. Now let's get on with the subject of charging the Pope for his criminal behaviour.

      • "charging the Pope for his criminal behaviour"

        That's completely absurd.

        • WHY? What's so absurd about it?

    • Don't forget BEATING OR KILLING EVERY SINGLE JEW WHO EVEN GOES NEAR A MOSQUE EVER ZOMG!!!!!!

    • My god you're a phenomenal idiot. The "highest levels" of Islam don't have any connections with extremist groups, and if they do, it's covert. Your analogy is insanely uneducated.

      This isn't one religion against another. This isn't saying "end Catholicism". This is saying that the official organization that runs Catholicism, worldwide, is admittedly FILLED with pedophiles. That is FACT. Now, they want to put the head of the organization on trial to determine if he in fact helped harbor those criminals. What is wrong with that?

      Honestly, If there is any way to prove that Al Qaeda is linked to any Muslim government, directly, fine. Try them. Or let their own country try them, as in this case. But this isn't an "either-or" scenario. If the Church is guilty, then the Church is guilty. If Islam is guilty, than Islam is guilty. We're not looking for the worst here, just the guilty. And we have a crime.

      The fact that you make this argument, to me, is proof that you're nothing more than a scared bigot that would be broken-hearted and butt-hurt if you saw your chosen faith (or really anything Christian) challenged. But in the end, you're really just as stupid as anyone who straps a bomb to their chest. And it doesn't take religion to do that. The only requirement is being, as I stated, a phenomenal idiot.

      • Hey Pete, have you escaped from your mental institution? Put the gun down. Stay away from the post office. Get a hold of your emotions. You haven't even bothered to read my comments, obviously. You've got a lot of anger – don't go running around hurting people, OK?

  6. The signatories to the ICC treaty later endorsed an additional document titled “Elements of Crime,”…

    For Robertson the document is fundamentally inconsistent with provisions of the treaty that would allow for prosecution. He thinks the waters should be tested: an NGO, acting on behalf of abuse victims, could seek a preliminary ICC hearing, during which the court could consider whether it had jurisdiction. There are similar legal strategies, Robertson details, that he believes would allow successful civil suits against the Holy See

    Let's see now, there's another group of people that people don't trust. A group of people that are frequently looked upon negatively, and would dream of having the type of reputation that goes with members of the clergy. This group of people is infiltrated with far more scumbags than what you'd find in the clergy of any religious organization. The member of this group are called lawyers.

    Let's put this Geoffrey Robertson lawyer on trial for sinking to the lowest and most putrid depths of his profession.

    This is typical of lawyers like him – ignore the laws they don't like and drag people into court anyway with no standing, just because they know a lot of procedural tricks. Then they charge gargantuan sums of money to their clients, while bankrupting innocent defendents, as the case is thrown out of court and reputations have been ruined. Then they do it all over again.

    • putrid depths

      This pretty much describes how I feel about the leaders of a church that covered up, and further enabled their own to commit vile crimes while portraying themselves as the moral authority.
      Talk procedural tricks to victims who were cut loose by a faith intent on hiding it's sins at any cost.

      The Catholic Church brought this plague upon itself.

    • You're right, how despicable of him to want to prosecute pedophiles and those who have aided them in securing victims.

      And how is he the one ignoring laws? There is no law that protects priests from being prosecuted for any crimes they commit, at least not in Canada. It's clearly the Catholic hierarchy that sees itself as above the law, assigning some extra prayers to child molesters instead of turning them over to the law.

      I don't think that lawyers are the greatest group of people by any stretch of the imagination, but attacking someone who wants to prosecute people who we know well beyond a reasonable doubt, either molested children themselves, or knowingly covered up for those who did commit these crimes, is bizarre. Maybe you don't think that molesting children is wrong?

      • And how is he the one ignoring laws?

        I made it very obvious. He's ignoring the "Elements of Crime" document, just because it's inconvenient for him. Can you not read?

        The rest of what you say is irrelevant and wrong in some cases. The pope did not knowingly cover up any crimes.

        Maybe you don't think that molesting children is wrong?

        Thanks so much for your valuable commentary.

        • He did knowingly cover up these crimes – he was the one in charge of that department when many of these cases happened. Read up on the facts of these cases.

          What I say seems irrelevant to you because you're not interested in the facts of these cases. If people commit crimes like sexually assaulting children in Canada, as a bunch of priests have, they should face prosecution.Whether you like it or not, that is a relevant fact to these cases. If someone in another country helped to cover up or enable those crimes, they should also face justice for their part. That is also relevant.

          I only suggested that you might be OK with child molesting facetiously because you seem intent on defending people who we know committed these crimes. It is simply bizarre.

        • He's hardly ignoring "Elements of Crime". He points out that it is untested in court and inconsistent with the other provisions.

          • In other words, he's making irrelevant excuses so that he can ignore it.

    • Are you thinking of Baltazar Garzon, that darling of the bleeding heart Left?

    • Dude, stop dodging accountability by changing the subject and pointing fingers at a diversion you think is worse. THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is, The Catholic Church has evidence against it, and they're going to court. Nothing you've mentioned to counter this point has either made sense or been relevant. You're just blithering crap, and honestly, you said you're not a Christian, but that's clearly not the case.

      • Please Pete, don't go on a shooting spree. It's not worth it. Just go on a visit to your head doctor – sooner rather than later. You'll thank me later.

    • Stop excusing these monsters, this is no little bonfire in Florida, this is the systematic rape of thousands of children throughout the world, thousands in my country (Ireland) alone, these rapists were hidden by their superiors as has been pointed out clearly by many. The present pope is as guilty of these crimes as those he protected, as is John Paul II. They are guilty, Ratzinger is a delusional, institutionalised child rapist aider.
      He should be in prison.
      And I was 5 years an alter boy in 1960's Ireland.
      He is beyond normal, he is beyond sympathy, he is primal and ugly, and festering in 'sin', to use a popular Catholic phrase.
      And you support this man shame, shame, shame.

      • Don't bother talking to me. Talk to your neighbours in Ireland, whom are overwhelmingly Catholic, and tell them you want to jail the pope. See what they think (if they're laughing, they're not laughing with you, they're laughing at you).

    • He's a lawyer. Not a saint. What good were you expecting?

  7. The Pope and the Church should have been brought to court a long time ago. Had they done this, there would have been many lives saved from destruction. People and organization only pay attention to prevention only when they lived through tough penalty and consequences for not doing so.

  8. I'm no fancy-pants international laywer, but it seems to me that the burden of the "Elements of Crime" could be met.

    No-one would suggest that rape/ torture of children is in, “furtherance of state or organizational policy".

    The subsequent cover-up and priest shuffling however, meets that criteria on all levels.

    It was in furtherance of the Catholic faith that these scandals were hidden from the police, and public.

    That sounds like, in, “furtherance of state or organizational policy", to me.

    • THIS, exactly! I just posted this on FB in response to that Elements of crime bit. Let's hope we're right!

  9. Is there another organization on this planet that would be exempted from prosecution for knowingly adding pedophiles in molesting children? We have al the evidence we need to prove, well beyond a reasonable doubt, that numerous members of the Catholic hierarchy, particularly the current Pope, are guilty.

    The role of the Catholic Church in anything else in history is irrelevant. When people commit crimes, they should face justice, no matter who they are. It's called "rule of law". That they are not facing prosecution is a clear demonstration that we do not live in a world governed by this ideal.

    And for the record, I have nothing against Catholics. I think that Catholic parishioners are all victims of this. They put an enormous amount of trust and faith in the institution, and it has been betrayed by those in power. As a religious person myself, I am disgusted at this sort of betrayal of what is literally a sacred trust.

  10. Should eminent lawyers face charges? But of course they should, on many counts. As an example, are they not putting their intimidating skills to illegal use when they knowingly defend a felon who they know to be guilty. They even brag about how they duped a jury or a magistrate?. And don't tell me the law is an honourable profession compared with, for example, climate science.

    • I am a retired police officer and as a matter of habit loathe defence attourneys who made my job difficult. But the fact of the matter is my job should have been difficult; I would not want to part of a system that presumed the state's evidence was true without being tested. Lawyers are always representing innocent people – they cannot be otherwise until an accused's guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. I couldn't do the job of a defence lawyer, but that does not mean that they are not valuable. (Even if sometimes I wish it was as tire chocks for transport trucks…)

  11. Certainly the Catholic sex abuse scandal is a terrible thing, but as best I can tell, Pope Benedict is doing his best to deal with the situation forthrightly. Moreover, Robertson's accusations (which are essentially a limelight-seeking to the crowd that made Dan Brown a bestseller) represent a grievous violation of the sovereignty of the Holy See. The best indicator of whether a state is a "real country" comes down to who recognizes it. The Vatican is recognized as a state by almost every other country (it does not maintain diplomatic relations with China, due to China's stance on abortion and human rights record).

    Not only is the Vatican not signatory to the ICC, the sex abuse scandal hardly fits into its jurisdiction. The ICC is meant to address:
    -genocide
    -war crimes
    -crimes against humanity
    ( http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/iccelementso… )
    Obviously there is no way Benedict is guilty of the first two. Obstruction of justice, or anything like it, is not listed in the definition of crimes against humanity (remember, there is no case that Benedict is guilty of mass rape – he is being accused of obstruction here).

    The Catholic Church is not perfect, and has a lot to answer for.* Unfortunately it appears that the Christian imperative of forgiveness has severe organizational consequences. However, there is no legal case for trying the pope. Doing so would dangerously extend international law in a manner that violates national sovereignty and ignores the text of existing law itself.

    *As do many protestant churches, which have similar rates of child abuse. However they get far less attention because they represent the majority of the US population and are not as big.

    • Please cite sources that protestant churches have similar rates of child abuse. The numbers in this article, 4.3% of priests, is chilling. A key part of the Reformation was the abolishment of clerical celibacy, which was thought to be linked to sexual misconduct.

      "The Reformers made abolition of clerical continence and celibacy a key element in their reform. They denounced it as opposed to the New Testament recommendation that a cleric should be "the husband of one wife" (see on 1 Timothy 3:2–4 above), the declared right of the apostles to take around with them a believing Christian as a wife (1 Corinthians 9:5) and the admonition, "Marriage should be honoured by all" (Hebrews 13:4). They blamed it for widespread sexual misconduct among the clergy."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clerical_celibacy

      "Similar situations occur with high frequency in our own species and the response is much the same. If either males or females cannot for some reason obtain sexual access to their opposite members, they will find sexual outlets in other ways."

      Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape (1967) http://www.scribd.com/doc/6409040/Desmond-Morris-

      • The Catholic Church has these problems for the same reason that the boy scouts used to. It isn't celibacy (even if there were no ban on celibacy, you would still have plenty of unmarried priests), it is that priests are given positions of authority, access to young children, and limited oversight. The Catholic Church does need to reform itself, and I would suggest that the lessons of the Boy Scouts (which have managed to seriously reduce the number of cases) are more instructive and more compatible with Catholic doctrine.

        As for protestant sex abuse cases – the CMR (a legal firm that serves a large number of churches and conducts annual surveys on this type of stuff) suggests that they make up the majority of cases (70%) in the US.
        http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0405/p01s01-ussc.ht

        • Thanks for the additional sources.

          In this article, they state annual reports of clerical abuse to insurance companies at 260 for Protestant churches, and 228 for Catholic churches in the US. Given that Protestants outnumber Catholics in the US 2 to 1 , this is a huge disparity.

          Note that I don't favor either party, it is just my impression that the clerical abuse within the Catholic church are exacerbated by their culture. In the Baptist churches of my youth, the priests weren't revered in the way you see done with Catholic clergy. I would think that an abuser would be caught much quicker, and the church would not go to such lengths to protect themselves as has been done by the Catholic church.

      • And this article by Dr. Plante, who studies this research question also discusses the data, and the futility of ending priestly celibacy. I mean if the problem is that some priests lust after children, being married is not going to satiate those desires. Moreover, 70% of Catholic sex abuse cases are homosexual. The church could end celibacy but we both know it isn't going to allow priests to marry other men anytime soon (nor can it, outside of a few countries anyway).
        http://www.psychwww.com/psyrelig/plante.html

        • I agree with your logic: ending clerical celibacy will not change anything for priests that are paedophiles and homosexuals. The point I was making in quoting Desmond Morris is that perfectly normal people seek sexual outlets. If they are denied their natural outlet (in the case of heterosexual priests), they will be tempted by other outlets. This is evident by the high rates of sodomy in prisons and certain puritanical countries.
          http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/

        • Interesting handwaving there.
          They are not homosexual. They are pedophile in nature. One involves consensual relationships between folk of the same sex, the other an abuse of vulnerable party unable to give consent by another party keen to exploit this situation.
          " Homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia are not synonymous. In fact, it may be that these two orientations are mutually exclusive, the reason being that the homosexual male is sexually attracted to masculine qualities whereas the heterosexual male is sexually attracted to feminine characteristics, and the sexually immature child's qualities are more feminine than masculine. . . . The child offender who is attracted to and engaged in adult sexual relationships is heterosexual. It appears, therefore, that the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater sexual risk to underage children than does the adult homosexual male."
          AN Groth author of Men Who Rape: Psychology of the Offender.

          Doesn't fit into the narrative the religious right are pushing, but the Groth actually worked and studied offenders and wrote a classic paper on the subject. More importantly the author had no axe to grind, or water to carry.

    • Unfortunately, the above is correct. The Vatican is not a signatory of the ICC and with precedent in favour it is likely that it would be recognised as a sovereign state. Therefore what is written in the article is no more than fiction – and would not be covered by the ICC's jurisdiction.

      Furthermore the actions of Pope Benedict, whilst in control of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would not be covered by Article 7. However as written below there could be stronger cases against others, such as Cardinal Bernard Law.

      The modern world should not tolerate the depolorable actions of the Catholic church, in so far as as priest peadophillia is concerned. There is nothing 'holy' about the secrecy that surrounds the Vatican, it is a thinly disguised veil for much evil. However, it is unlikely to change, because any level of transparency would reveal just what has occured, which I fear is much worse than is currently understood.

    • Most (not all) protestant/evangelical groups have more local governance able to deal promptly with sex offenders. A church I once attended had a youth pastor who made an (unsuccessful) pass at a female youth. Parents became aware. They approached the elders. The elders approached the man in question and he had to resign. Overseers in Scripture are to protect the sheep, not predators. Anyone who claims to represent Peter should take note. It was dealt with in a very short time. To secure another position, the man would need a reference from his last post, and which in this case would close the door on him as the matter would be discussed with all before allowing him to come to a new place.The local members have the power to decide who will serve among them. So while abuses do happen, the tools for dealing with them are more readily available as the parents have direct and meaningful say in what goes on in their church as it affects their children.

  12. The case against Pope Benedict might be questionable, but the case agianst Cardinal Bernard Law is not. As the Archbishop of Boston, he knowingly transferred pedophiles from one parish to another to the extent that he has issued an apology for his "bad judgement". And the church response? Transferring him to the Vatican, with its sovereign status that protects Law from any legal action. Atheism and agnosticism is on the rise, and the fail of the Catholic Church to live up to the most basic of its tenants is undoubtedly a major contributor

  13. We all know the pope isn't going to 'face charges', so while this is all very interesting, it's ultimately futile.

    • But Emily, Pope bashing is such fun. And aren't we wicked. Now that we are all grown up, we can bash anyone, or at least anyone who can't bash us back.

      • If you consider everything from stake-burning to pedophila is mere 'pope bashing', you haven't been paying attention.

    • You might be right on that one Emily, but I am still hoping anyway that someone/some groups out there has/have the wherewithal to start a class action suit against the Catholic Church. Otherwise failed promises will just be that. These people will not take their promises seriously if they are not made to pay their failure, bad judgement, mistakes and indifference of which destroyed so many lives. Sadly, what was exposed might just be the tip of an iceberg. It is very difficult to believe that payout to silence complainants, had happened without the knowledge of the church.

      • Why just the Catholic church? The majority of abuse cases in the US occur in protestant churches. The Catholic church tends to get more press because it is a centralized organization that has good data on the matter, and because the majority of Catholic abuse cases are homosexual (the opposite is true for protestants).
        http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_2

        • Religion is a great tool to gain and wield power over people, regardless of denomination or faith. I personally know a guy who was a complete loser most of his life and in his 30's became an ordained minister. He loved it. All of a sudden he had power, respect and notoriety in the community. Small communities were clamoring for ministers, all of a sudden he was in demand and calling the shots. Ego stroking 101.

          I don't doubt that scores of other people just like him seek out the clergy for the same reasons…and if you're a pedophile…what a great cover and means to an endless supply of fresh meat.

          • There are plenty of other ways to get that kind of authority and access to children. One can become a protestant priest, a scout leader (although the boyscouts have done a fairly good job of clamping down on abuse), a teacher, or start a family of one's own (family members commit a large percentage of the crimes). Parents need to be careful, and these institutions need to reform themselves to prevent abuse. For instance, the boyscouts adopted a policy whereby no scout is allowed to be alone with a scout leader at any time.

        • No exemption. Any group/religion or organizations who knowingly helped hide a crime/crimes should face the law.

        • That article is over 3years old- and once again as the congregation here has said repeatedly-1wrong+1wrong doesnt make a right.
          Even 1wrong+someone elses 3wrongs..still no right.

  14. The once mighty Catholic church has little relevance or (thankfully) power in developed countries anymore. Their power is increasingly significant only in poor, uneducated "third world" countries where you'd expect people to follow their message of magic and miracles.

    Unfortunately we've likely not even begun to "scratch the surface" of abuse by priests in those countries.

    • Extremely well said Habitant!

  15. You have a problem seeing the forest for the trees.

    For instance, you state "You claim that ''Muslims worldwide have harboured terrorist groups that have maimed and killed millions of people…''. No, this is not so. At best, SOME Muslims have harboured such things. However, Islam has not. "

    Talk about grammatical and meaningless nonsense. When someone says "Muslims worldwide" it does not mean "all" Muslims. Learn English.

    the vast majority of what we consider to be Islamo-terrorism is actually nationalistic and ethnic in nature.

    Ethnic? No. You just made that up. There's only one place in the world that claim could be made, in Serrbia/Kosovo. Elsewhere, not a chance. Not even close. Shiites, Sunnis and Alawis don't hate each other for ethnic reasons, not in the slightest.

    Nationalistic? Of course. That's the main problem with Islam. It's nationalistic. It's anti-secularist. Therefore, in the dozens of Muslim majority countries, there's only one democracy, and it's rather shaky at the moment. The other main problem is that it's expansionary and territorial.

    Should the Canadian Islamic Congress face charges you ask… I have the Canadian Criminal Code (pocket size) directly in front of me, I await your suggested charges..

    That's the whole point! You can't see the forest for the trees. The pope should not receive charges either. This idiotic lawyer reviewed the criminal code of the ICC and concluded it was not possible. Then he concluded that if he ignored one or more statutes and tried some procedural tricks, he could try it anyway. So if all lawyers are like him, then reviewing the criminal code is pointless anyway.

    Frankly, you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to Muslim atrocities committed worldwide. You seriously have no idea. Your sense of equivalence is the blind false equivalence that is so prevalent amongst people like you – condemn what you know, ignore the elephant in the room you don't know about.

    • While I agree that the doctrines of Islam are the cause of much evil in the world, Habitant is nonetheless right about you using that as a smokescreen. The fact that other people do evil things does not excuse the Catholic Church for all of the evil it has committed.

      • Well, there is a principle in law called "equal protection". Should we go down the road of prosecuting the Catholic church in the international criminal court, then at the same time we should be prosecuting Muslim groups worldwide for child sexual abuse and mutilation, forced child marriage, subjugation of minorities, subjugation and torture of women, all of which haven been institutionalized in many Muslim countries.

        For instance, in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, women are stoned to death and whipped for the simple act of being in the company of men without a family member present or appearing in public without a head covering. In Yemen, child sexual abuse has been institiationalized, where girls are routinely married to adult men at the age of 12 years old. How could we possibly ignore this far worse situation while criminalizing the Catholic church?

        The law is not the law without the concept of equal protection. So no, it is not a smokescreen. If we have no intention of prosecuting acts across the world that are far worse than the acts of the Catholic church, then we should not be prosecuting the Catholic church.

        If you are talking about prosecuting acts individually within the countries where they were committed, then that is a different story, that is already taking place.

  16. s_c_f your argument is the most ridiculous I have seen in my life. Are you a catholic priest or child molester?

  17. hosertohoosier same applies to you. There have been 100,000's of rapes over the last 50 years alone by these scum. That is obvious crimes against humanity and your beloved Pope has be a part of hiding these crimes. The Pope and his cohorts still pine for the days when they could castrate small boys to keep their voices high and sweet sounding. Sick animals all of them praying to a fake man-god.

    • What you are proposing is that people arrest the pope under international law over allegations of something that, as best I can tell, is not identified as a crime. If the pope organized or participated in mass rape you might have a case, but he did not. It sounds like you hate Catholics more than you do rapists. This is problematic because sexual abuse is a terrible thing, regardless of who commits it. Those that make this out to be a Catholic problem (and yes, it is especially pronounced within the Catholic Church) mislead parents in protestant clergies and elsewhere that would do well to be careful.

      • So what you are saying is, being that it isnt directly spelled out in the law, its ok?
        Maybe I should come over, rape your daughter and cum in your wifes ass, then come to court and have the case thrown out, because the tape you've brought in as evidence was filmed without MY knowledge or consent.

        It's either right, or wrong.
        There can't be any grey area- and you saying that a loophole can and will be exercised is about as disgusting as my suggesting that I'd come over and rape your daughter and cum in your wifes ass.

      • covering up, hiding abuse is a crime. allowing it to continue and placing the offender where they can offend again is a crime. endangering children is a crime. this was done knowingly in the catholic church and specifically by the present pope.

  18. Sure he should be charged. he's just a human being, nothing special. Then again why worry about buring Korans? IThey're just a bunch of paper, right?

  19. The catholic church should be forced to create some kind of pamphlet or book in which they write down their ethical stance on issues like child abuse and lying.

    Other large corporations have constitution like documents in which they state their corporate ethics, so why should the church have no kind of statement or guide book to tell it's members what is right and what is wrong?

    • They do have one. It's that contradiction, slavery, rape, genocide, misogyny, ritual murder ridden title they call the Bible which they regard as open to interpretation and use to justify acts and decisions they had decided on anyway.

    • check the Catechism of the Catholic Church

    • Specifically paragraph 2356 dealing with rape of children under care of another. It is dealt with on paper, now how to deal with it?

  20. And nobody freaks out when Catholics build a church next to a school… or open their own!

    • i do! i don't want no old virgin beating ANY kid with a ruler. it's outrageous! and especially if their only qualification is their religious cloth.

    • Are you kidding me? this is a huge generalization. I myself am a Catholic school student, and I have never felt "freaked out", nor have my parents, who are completely pleased I am enrolled in one. As for we_are_there's comment, no virgin has ever beaten me with a ruler.

  21. While the Catholic Church is undergoing a very public problem of harbouring pedophiles, is it unique? One has only to google "Anglican" and "Pedophile" to find dozens of pedophile articles about the Anglican Church/Church of England. If you google "Muslim" and "Pedophile", you get the impression that pedophiles are accepted under the teachings of Muhammed.

    We have a universal problem of pedophiles within religious organizations. It needs to be corrected. If the Pope is to be prosecuted under ICC jurisdiction, will all world religious leaders be next in front of the ICC?

    • i like how you make decisions by googling two words

    • yes, I hope they will be all held accountable for protecting, hiding and/or committing any abuse, especially against children. what if a principal at a school hid abuse done by a teacher(s), of course he should be held responsible.

  22. Maybe we are missing the point here.
    Religion in all its forms has been responsible for an ungodly amount of suffering.

    Jeebus, sheeple, think for yourselves.

    Will we forever allow the ruling classes to use magical thinking to
    make our lives hell on earth?

    • People are responsible for an ungodly ammount of suffering.
      A guilty priest could never claim that God made him do it.

  23. Molestation of a child is a horrible crime. Guilt is guilt – irregardless of who is the perpetrator and what their office or station is – prosecute each and every one of them – and unaneasthetized surgical castration is the only punishment, once found guilty

    • let the law takes it's course and be less judgemental.

  24. all Muslims are not terrorists … off late all terrorists are Muslims though ! heres the flipside– 'crimes against humanity' in muslim majority nations are high due to unresolved macro issues and "higher causes" taking priority over governance/law &order eg:- most of them have to deal with freedom struggles, genocides, Israel, warring sects, political/military coup etc. In comparison pro Christian nations have had their lot in order for decades! Most muslim nations have very little experience in successfully running a govt as opposed to independent ,first world, pro christian nations. Doesnt it seem unjust to divert your attention to the Muslims and ignore the pope and his lot for continued unethical practices in an otherwise safe and developed country !!.

    religion faith and miracles aside; this article merely demands a higher level of accountability and conscience from the pope n his lot. horrific crimes have been allowed to continue for ages, seemingly because the oldest and most influential organization couldn't take a hard stance. Alas if only we could call them witches or infidels instead of paedophiles…

    • How colourful your defense is of the Muslims. If you could use half of your brain to look at the flip side of your argument, you shouldn't have trouble clearing the Pope or the Catholic Church. Regardless of the reason why these "crimes against humanity," which you seem to be dismissing quite easily, perpetrators deserve to be brought to justice if you want to maintain consistency in your character (and I hope you're not a two-faced everyday westerner who has had his fill with eggs and bacon every morning and now you want to throw your two cents and a couple of kicks at the Church).

    • "pro christian nations have had their lot in order for decades!" huh??? why? because they were civilized or advanced enough to record history, therefore making it easy for future generations to look back and analyze and judge it? whereas the Muslims have been in the Dark Ages up until recently (actually they still are in the DARK for the most part) – I shudder to think of the horrific cruelty and evil that has existed for thousands of years in their culture where there is no written reference, no history books documenting the truth…
      If the Muslims are capable of killing women in their own families in this day and age…wtf….you don't have to have a vivid imagination to think of what MONSTROUS things happened within their culture….

  25. in 2004 the pope was given diplomatic immunity with all cases concerning any child molestation or abuse by George W. Bush and that’s a fact. He may be guilty but he can’t be convicted of anything because of this. if what your trying to prove is that hes a evil man who preaches a false and fake religion then your wasting your time cause this has already be done several times. No matter what the charges presented before the pope he has immunity and will not be convicted

    • I'll reserve my comments until I can have certain questions answered…

      1. Could you cite (or offer a link) to Bush granting immunity to the Pope in 2004?
      2. Assuming that point is fact and, as you indicated, done in 2004, was it for the position of papacy, or the specific Pope in 2004 (John Paul II)?
      3. Regardless of whom received this immunity, Bush's jurisdiction would be limited to prosecution in the United States, right?

      • Judiciary is quite separate from the Presidency's whims. If there are evidence that the Pope knowingly helped transfer pedohiles, he can be brought to court.

    • Right. Enough said.
      You had me at George W. Bush.
      now that man was a genius leader.

      smh.

    • G. W. Bush can possibly have given immunity from U.S. law, but he can still be tried in Canada or elsewhere.

      Also, it's not even clear the Bush had that kind of sweeping (and irreversible) authority, short of a pardon.

  26. The definition of a christian is someone who follows Jesus. One the issue of harming children: Jesus taught that it would be better for those who abuse children to have a millstone tied to their neck and be thrown into the sea than to face God on the day of judgement. It doesn't look like the pope takes this seriously-because he feels he's above the teachings of Jesus and can override anything he likes. This is because the catholic church is more Rome than Jesus-which was it's problem from the beginning. Brokenness and repentance are of Jesus, rationalization is not.

    • The Romans were good for many things – except their perversion of Christian Teaching. They have always behaved badly to their own, along with the agnostics, which practice the true meaning of Christianity-but turned it into a practice of perceived 'non belief'.

  27. So I guess we should arrest and put on trial every president of every country, because terrorists live in their country? Come on, this is just someone out to make a quick buck and to harm the Catholic church.

    • It is a question of knowingly hiding, transferring pedophiles, and paying out victims to keep them mum. Pay outs and transferrs did not happen whithout the knowledge of the Church.

    • Please, lets keep this discussion valuable-and for the 13+croud as far as comments go.
      Isnt there an AOL chatroom you should be in?

  28. brilliantly said, sir!

  29. "Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart. … Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: they struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person."

    - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

  30. In my opinion, I think that these lawyers should be facing charges for character defamation and discrimination. Character defamation because the Pope's already been cleared of any of the deceptive charges, which have been brought forth by people who are filled with hatred, anger and restlessness. Read the response to these charges made by the Church. You got no case!

    Discrimination because let's see…
    -Muslims, on daily basis, on the streets, in their mosques or on national UK television, are cursing and threatening the UK
    -Muslims kidnap, kill, blow and decapitate innocent people almost everyday somewhere
    -Muslims burn flags, teach their young kids to hate Christians, Jews, and anyone who is not Muslim
    and yet we do not hear any British dog barking at any Muslim leader or institution. We do not see these enterprising lawyers who act so concerned for human welfare flexing muscles at Muslim clerics, imams or governments. I'm pressed to ask why? Why the hypocrisy? Why the cowardice? Why the discrimination? Could it be because Catholics do not threaten to blow you up and annihilate you like Muslims do???? I'm begging for answers here.

    • If only it were the lawyers that had defamed their characters, and not something done on a very coherent personal level.

      • futher to that, it seems that you have issues with Muslims.
        I think you need to ask yourself-
        why the discrimination?
        why the hypocrisy?

  31. We live in a World of myths. Trying to find a truth is difficult or impossible. So what difference does it make? Attempt to end Child abuse may surprise you and lead right to the mother! Now who wants to do that? It might be the lead to solving a lot of problems and diseases. But who wants to do that. May as well just keep playing around. Good for the economy.

  32. he's the head pedophile. They are one of the same. That god thing is just a way to control people. make you believe is something that's not there. there has never been any proof of a god. and if there i. he should be canned. for not having a brain cell that's useful.

  33. Blessings:
    Bush protects Pope, Pope forgives Bush. Neither are TRUE. Judgment still awaits them.
    Fake President, Fake Pope – the leaders of liars, murderers and thieves.
    Who you follow is who you are, will you seek out the true leaders of God or continue to accept the false men of the devil.
    The Sign of Jonah has been seen, the Glory of the Olive walks among you.
    Who among you will walk with Him.

    your humble servant,
    ancient clown
    aka. Pope Vincent

  34. Illuminati and freemasons attacking the church form any side they can.

    • how's the tin-foil hat thing going for you?

  35. The Catholic Church is 500+ years (or more) behind the times … and unfortunately it's adherents are taught at an early age not to question anything.
    Anyone who would become a priest is obviously not well adapted to modernity, and would be suspect by today's psycholgical standards of normality. Who in today's world would want to become a priest? To commit to life-long celebacy? To live in an all-male world? Only patriarchal narcissists, homosexuals, and/or pedophiles.
    Never trust a man in a dress who theoretically doesn't have sex tell you what to do. Ever.

    • Never trust a man, ever, rely on your own instincts, knowledge and experience, to guide you through life. Men as women have their own agendas, 'survival of the species'.

  36. yes!

  37. Remember Graham James, the Jr Hockey coach who abuses players under his charge? Did he go to prison? No. Our society treats ALL sexual child abuse lightly, because it is so hard to prove.

    • Absolutely NOT – The Pope should Never be put on Trial – to do so is an afront to Christianity. This particular Pope did not himself harm children, he is not the one to place the blame on, instead, blame the persons who actually did the harm, I am sick and tired of the way the media and society try to topple important persons by connecting them to past events that they really had nothing to do with. The Pope is the instrument of God on Earth – to say that he should be put on trial is akin to putting God on trial. I am not Catholic but I respect their faith and what the Pope stands for. To even put the Pope in the same league as a minor hockey league coach who actually molested young boys is both sickening and disrespectful. Let’s make this clear – The Pope Did NOT molest anyone, neither did he condone it.

      • And, if you really believe that crap, you are his brain-washed slave.

  38. I agree with this article. May I point out, however, that Geoffrey Robertson is AUSTRALIAN, not British??

    We need to have someone we can be proud of!

    Thank you!

  39. The Catholic Church, from the Vatican on down, needs its own version of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to ferret out the whole story regarding child molestation by clergy within the Church. "The truth shall make you free," as Jesus said.

  40. The pope and all before this one. Are the head of the pedophile rings. Only if your a pedophile can you get into that field of work.

  41. While the Roman Church's handling of these crimes is certainly appalling, what I find even more appalling is the number of people who use this issue to malign not only the Roman rite but all religion, as though the two things go hand in hand. Yes, steps need to be taken to insure the protection of the faithful within the Church but steps also need to be taken to ensure that those who keep this issue in the forefront of media attention are doing so for the protection of vulnerable persons and not for the furthering of their own agendas. How many of these agnostics and atheists are attacking the rest of the global system of law and government over issues of abuse? A substantial percentage of children and and almost half of all women in developed countries have endured abuse, sexual or otherwise. Usually at the hands of someone in authority that they trusted and respected and most of them are not Roman Catholic.

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