Ahhh, nothing like being right. Just as I recently reported, Pope Benedict is concerned about retaining immunity from legal prosecution regarding the Church’s child sex abuse scandals. He will remain in Vatican City, which is, of course, a sovereign state, for the remainder of his years, after his resignation on February 28, Reuters reports. But, of course, Vatican officials assert other reasons for the Pope’s continued residency in Vatican City, though they also mention the inevitable fact that if he were to live elsewhere, there is the very real possibility he could be prosecuted for his role in the sex abuse scandals that have plagued his papacy and the Catholic Church. One Vatican official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, says:
“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.”
The official added that the Pope should have a “dignified existence” for his remaining time on this earth, and that “it is absolutely necessary” that he remain at the Vatican.
What about the dignity of all of those who suffered abuse, possibly at his hands, and definitely at the hands of his priests for all of those years? Why should he be entitled to a dignified existence while those people get no justice for their suffering?
I know he met with victims of abuse and apologized for abuse in the church, but somehow, that just doesn’t seem like enough, considering that child-molesting priests were shunted from parish to parish all over the world instead of being relieved of their duties and handed over to authorities as any other person who engaged in this disgusting activity would have been.
The Vatican says that there were three major considerations regarding the Pope’s residency at the Vatican after his retirement. Firstly, the Vatican police are already well acquainted with Pope Benedict and his habits, and will be able to provide needed privacy and security to him. One official says:
“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.”
Another consideration is that his final place of residence could become a place of pilgrimage for the faithful. I don’t honestly understand why anyone would seek peace or hope at the home of someone who made a virtual career of enabling child molestation, but, then again, I am not Catholic. Go figure. I suppose this is a fair enough reason for his staying where he is.
However, the last, and, of course, likely most important, consideration is his potential for exposure to criminal prosecution regarding the sex abuse scandals in the Church. The most recent example that points to this being a legitimate fear was in 2010, when the Pope was named as a defendant in a case regarding the abuse of boys at a U.S. school for the deaf, where he was told about the abuse in 1995, when he was a Cardinal, but failed to act. Thus far, he has not been named in any other cases, though it is certainly a possibility. Victims rights groups argue that he had a responsibility to act on allegations of abuse, but failed to do so as he rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church.
Vatican officials openly admit to a fear of people going after the Pope on a legal level. One source says:
“(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.”
Another official had to go and make sure this isn’t the only, or even main, reason for Benedict’s continued residence in the State of Vatican City, though, of course:
“While this was not the main consideration, it certainly is a corollary, a natural result.”
Also, when Benedict went to Britain in 2010, the professor of evolutionary biology and outspoken atheist, Richard Dawkins, asked authorities to arrest him with regards to the abuse, and he and the late Christopher Hitchens commissioned lawyers to figure out ways to legally prosecute the Pope. Unfortunately, due to his being a head of state, he enjoys diplomatic immunity, so their efforts were fruitless.
I tend to agree with the victims’ rights groups, and I wish that the efforts of Dawkins and Hitchens had not been thwarted by legal loopholes. Benedict, and others, had the power to stop this abuse, but did not. They should not be able to hide behind religion and avoid paying the legal price for the atrocities they helped perpetuate. However, as I’ve said before, since when does the Catholic Church follow the same rules as everyone else?
Well, this is the first time that a Pope has resigned in 600 years. Perhaps this will be a catalyst for more change. Of course, the Church defends Benedict and says that he did much to change the patterns of abuse happening within. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said this about Pope Benedict:
“[He] 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.”
I, of course, disagree with the good Father, and would simply love to see this pedophile- enabling sicko spend the rest of his days behind bars where he belongs.