Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI

(Note: This was posted elsewhere on T|A, however the text of the story was not included and the post was closed to comments, therefore I am reposting it properly)

RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.

Benedict will be in Britain between September 16 and 19, visiting London, Glasgow and Coventry, where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century theologian.

Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because, although his tour is categorised as a state visit, he is not the head of a state recognised by the United Nations.

They have commissioned the barrister Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens, a solicitor, to present a justification for legal action.

The lawyers believe they can ask the Crown Prosecution Service to initiate criminal proceedings against the Pope, launch their own civil action against him or refer his case to the International Criminal Court.

Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: “This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence.”

Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, said: “This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment."

Last year pro-Palestinian activists persuaded a British judge to issue an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, for offences allegedly committed during the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza. The warrant was withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to the UK.

“There is every possibility of legal action against the Pope occurring,” said Stephens. “Geoffrey and I have both come to the view that the Vatican is not actually a state in international law. It is not recognised by the UN, it does not have borders that are policed and its relations are not of a full diplomatic nature.”


Views: 36

Comment by CJoe on April 11, 2010 at 10:56pm
Comment by Galen on April 11, 2010 at 11:34pm
Yes, I know the headline is sensationalized. The article is correct, Cara, lol.
Comment by Aric on April 12, 2010 at 12:08am
Maybe they shouldn't tell anyone about their plan until after the Pope is behind bars. It would be more likely to be successful that way.
Comment by CJoe on April 12, 2010 at 12:25am
By "sensationalized" do you mean taken out of context? This is what Dawkins said in response to articles like this:

"Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment
Comment by Galen on April 12, 2010 at 12:36am
By sensationalized, I mean that it should be simple common sense to ignore the hyped nonsense in media and try to glean the facts as best you can. I honestly didn't even notice the headline until you pointed it out. It never occurred to me to pay attention to that silliness.
Comment by CJoe on April 12, 2010 at 10:11am
Well, for one... I didn't point it out to put you down for posting the article or anything. I've seen stuff floating around the internet and wanted you to know it was, yeah, sensationalized. It may have come across wrong. But, I dunno that I agree that it's common sense to ignore the headline? It seems to me that it's the main point of the article. I dunno. Trying to prevent the UK from funding the Pope's visit is a bit different than arresting him... and I don't think everyone can just intuitively pick up on which facts are hype and which are not. This seemed like a big disparity to me, and that it needed to be pointed out... since it was, yes, the headline and the reason people would click on your blog. Sorry if I irritated you.
Comment by Allen Sneed on April 12, 2010 at 2:57pm
Thanks for pointing out the sensationlized headline Cara. I think we who hold a view that is counter to the majority need to be extra careful with the facts or risk being dismissed out of hand.
Comment by Galen on April 12, 2010 at 5:26pm
No, I wasn't irritated or anything. I just took it for granted that people would ignore the media hype and concentrate on the facts. It never occurred to me to point out that it was done with this story since it's done with every story, lol.


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