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Apr. 11 2010 - 5:40 am | 17,049 views | 6 recommendations | 53 comments

The case for arresting the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI finishes his speech to the U...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife


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.

– via Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI

Dawkins and Hitchens hope to arrest the Pope when he visits Britain between September 16 and 19. Hitchens first proposed the idea of launching a campaign to arrest the Pope, and Dawkins wholeheartedly supports the legal challenge. The pair believe Benedict will be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because he is not the head of a state recognized by the United Nations, though the Pope’s tour is categorized as a “state visit”.

Barrister Geoffrey Robertson and solicitor Mark Stephens have been brought aboard to help with the legal arguments, and they both seem very optimistic they can get Crown Prosecution Service to initiate criminal proceedings against the Pope.

There is already legal precedent for this type of order.

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 The warrant was withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to the UK.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.”

We now know the Pope had direct involvement in harboring criminals. When Pinochet was arrested in 1998, he was charged with 94 counts of torture. Surely, child rape should be considered a form of torture, and unlike Pinochet, Benedict cannot hide behind a head of state title. The Pope’s fantasies of grandeur may compel poor people to throw their hard-earned cash at the church, but in the real world, Benedict is just a former Hitler Youth who now wears a funny hat, and occasionally covers for child rapists. He’s a criminal — the head of a criminal enterprise — who can still be punished under the law.

Here is Robertson outlining the specific charges.

The ICC Statute definition of a crime against humanity includes rape and sexual slavery and other similarly inhumane acts causing harm to mental or physical health, committed against civilians on a widespread or systematic scale, if condoned by a government or a de facto authority. It has been held to cover the recruitment of children as soldiers or sex slaves. If acts of sexual abuse by priests are not isolated or sporadic, but part of a wide practice both known to and unpunished by their de facto authority then they fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the ICC – if that practice continued after July 2002, when the court was established.

According to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the total number of priests with allegations of abuse in the college’s survey is 4,392 for the period 1950-2002 (and not counting allegations that were withdrawn). Approximately one-third of all allegations were reported in 2002-2003, which falls within the window after the creation of the ICC.

The John Jay survey covers only US priests, and yet this single study proves the abuse was not isolated or sporadic. Additionally, the criminal enterprise has international reach extending to Ireland, Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, etc. So if the only prerequisites for arresting the Pope are that the allegations need to have been filed after 2002, and be systemic in nature, then Check and Mate.

The world need not remain silent in the presence of such evil simply because the Pope shields himself behind a veil of religiosity. In the past, sane members of our societies have drawn the line, and arrested religious charlatans for criminal behavior.

Warren Jeffs, the former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was arrested for two first-degree felony charges of accomplice rape for arranging extralegal marriages between his adult male followers and underage girls. In 2007, he was indicted in Arizona on eight counts, including sexual conduct with a minor and incest.

Through it all, Jeffs claimed to be a prophet (aren’t they always a prophet?) for one of the largest Mormon fundamentalist denominations, and yet he was not considered above the law when he began to facilitate the rape of little girls.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses proved to have their shit together more than the church when they kicked out George Arthur Cockerill, a former JW who was convicted of 19 rapes, four counts of sexual activity with a child, six counts of indecency with a child, one sex assault and two counts of indecency with a child. The sentencing judge said Cockerill used his religion as a “tool of subjection to control [his] victims.” Much like a nefarious priest manipulates a trusting child, and yet a UK judge did not permit Cockerill to use his religion as armor.

“As one victim said, you have stolen her childhood,” said Judge Roger Thorn QC. The Pope, and the rapist priests he protects, have stolen countless childhoods. They also must be held accountable.


A note from Richard Dawkins:

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 to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341

Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson’s subsequent ‘Put the Pope in the Dock’ article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:


The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.


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  1. collapse expand

    Jehovah’s Witness religion is known as the “pedophiles paradise”.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses religion requires TWO WITNESSES to a crime before they will consider it to have happened. How often are there two witnesses of an act of pedophilia?

    Settlement with victims of child abuse have required the victim to sign a gag order as documented by NBC.

    Please protect your children.

    Sexual Abuse/Child abuse issues among Jehovah’s Witnesses

  2. collapse expand

    Not going to happen. “Reformed” Nazis are sacrosanct.

  3. collapse expand

    Hire CodePink to do the arresting. They are following Karl Rove around the US trying to put the handcuffs on him for a citizen’s arrest. CodePink Ruullees

  4. collapse expand

    Although it has some great points, I see one small but important error in this article where it says JWs proved to have their act together in deleting “George Arthur Cockerill, a former JW who was convicted of 19 rapes, four counts of sexual activity with a child, six counts of indecency with a child, one sex assault and two counts of indecency with a child.”

    It should be corrected to say they FINALLY removed him. Earlier a victim had begged the other Elders (Cockerill was also a JW elder) to take action and they refused to do so. They only removed him FINALLY after he was convicted. Otherwise the article makes some good points about the pedophilia sadly also being covered up in the Roman Catholic Church and FLDS.

    If the different groups actually wanted to protect “the image” or “good name” of their groups, then they would protect the kids and boot out creeps. Instead what we see is an old Boys system that from top-down goes about protecting its most perverted, the very worst and darkest.

    People can believe whatever they want without having to give a dime, nickle or penny to any groups misleadership. It’s like giving money to pedophiles and the devil. I recently heard Watchtower, the organization over Jehovah’s Witnesses, wants United States elder bodys to come up with a minimum extra $30 a month.

    If so, why? I imagine because of the pedophile cases it’s been quietly settling out of court to keep out of the light of the media. It’s day of “Armageddon” is upon it and it’s a thorough financial crisis as victims get lawyers to win compensation. The more the regular people who were victimized among Roman Catholics, Fundamentalist LDS, JWs etc take action, the better.

    Again, thanks for your article which a friend had pointed out to me. Please keep on publishing about this important issue. The abused children and former children now become adults deserve to have all the voices they can get after being rejected by these false clergymen so many years.

  5. collapse expand

    Please, enough with the use of “the Pope.” The asshole in the funny costume is Joey Ratzinger. By honoring the honorific, you’re giving him and the criminal enterprise he leads way more respect than they deserve.

    • collapse expand

      So, since the U.S. has been committing and sponsoring crimes against humanity for the past decade or so, are we a criminal enterprise, too?

      If not, why not?

      Our Constitution, the document which allegedly lays out the rules for the operation of our democracy, must be a criminal document.

      I’m not defending the Catholic Church, just marveling at the way it receives the kind of passionate rebuke the bigger and badder criminals never seem to receive. Then again, those bad boys tend not to wear skirts or mutter gibberish before huge crowds of people (business meetings tending to have much lighter attendance).

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        since the U.S. has been committing and sponsoring crimes against humanity for the past decade or so, are we a criminal enterprise, too?”

        No doubt. I make the point as often as I can.

        “Our Constitution, the document which allegedly lays out the rules for the operation of our democracy, must be a criminal document.”

        Huh? Documents aren’t criminal. Actions are.

        (Of course the Constitution did not recognize our current sense of formal democracy until 1964. Still, as in Israel, a form of apartheid continues to disenfranchise many.)

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          “Huh? Documents aren’t criminal. Actions are.”

          Yes, but if we’re going the guilt-by-association route, we need to be consistent. I don’t personally consider our country a criminal (or any other kind of) enterprise simply because our democracy has been usurped by unethical people. Just a country guilty of many bad things. Just as the Catholic Church is guilty of a number of bad things. I’m trying to put its crimes in perspective, to show that it has some very stiff competition, which is why I marvel at the kind of passionate rebuke it receives in comparison to (for instance) the Animal House called Blackwater. People are always assuring me that, yes, we liberals are at least as angry about these other sponsors of corruption, but I’m not seeing it.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Sorry, that’s really disrespectful.

      When dealing with former soldiers, refer to them by rank – so he should always be addressed as oberrottenfuhrer Ratzinger.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    I imagine that the Pope and those rapist priests will get the Cheney/Wall St./air and water polluters/Blackwater pass. If those who kill and steal and destroy livelihoods can’t be called to account, I doubt the Pope is going to fry for trying to cover up some rapes. Of course, killing and stealing in the name of profit is way more popular than religion at this moment in our pop culture, but let’s put things in perspective.

    That Dawkins would use this occasion for such jackass grandstanding confirms my every last opinion of that ego-based cretin. Well, you go get ‘em, Dicky. Go arrest the Pope. Maybe your army of platitude-bearing twits can tag along and insult him real good for you. That’ll soften him up for the capture. Carry the banner of Logic and Reason–the false science of religion shrinks before it.

    A species less celebrity-addled would laugh the Pope and Dawkins out of a job, recognizing them for the jokes that they are. But clearly we are not that species.

    • collapse expand

      “That Dawkins would use this occasion for such jackass grandstanding confirms my every last opinion of that ego-based cretin.”

      That you would trust a Murdoch newspaper headline doesn’t speak so well of you:


      Dawkins did not say what The Times claimed he did, or anything much like it.

      At a time when the British government bans Snoop Dogg for entering the country because he’s been arrested for drug offences, many Britons are wondering why we’re *paying* for Ratzinger to come, when, by the estimates of his own church, he runs an organization where 4% of the employees are involved in child abuse or covering it up, and his own handwriting demonstrates he’s one of them.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        “Dawkins did not say what The Times claimed he did, or anything much like it.”

        Or anything much like it? No, just that he thinks the Pope should be tried, that he looks forward to the collapse of the Church, and that he’s enthusiastically helping to make this so. But, gosh, he didn’t say HE was going to arrest the Pope.

        Oh, and he didn’t say he was going to personally dismantle the Vatican, either. Or repeatedly slap Ratzinger in the face, Three-Stooges-style, going “Woob-oo-woob-oo!!”

        Poor, misunderstood Dawkins.

        And, of course, he never called believers morons or suggested that religion is conservative in all of its forms or suggested that faith needs to be wiped out if our species is to progress another day. Yet, somehow, those are precisely the messages his representatives hear. Gee, do you think his technique may consist of endless insinuation and incitement, with care taken to throw in the occasional meaningless disclaimer?

        I try to picture the same con working for a bank robber. Robber, gun in hand: “Give me your money. By the way, I am NOT robbing this bank.” (Two weeks later): Defense: “Well, my client said, loudly and clearly, that he was NOT robbing the bank.” Judge: “Ah, hell. Okay, charges dismissed.”

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          “Yet, somehow, those are precisely the messages his representatives hear.”

          They hear it, as you did, as the original article here did, because The Times slapped a sensationalist headline on a story that didn’t support it.

          You accused him of ‘grandstanding’. He wasn’t. You were wrong. You clearly lack the wit to understand or admit that. This does nothing to alter the facts.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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            I supported my points. You clearly lack the ability to read. You also lack the ability to launch any defense of your celebrity god beyond the cheapest kind of ad hominem.

            The fact that my view differs from yours makes me neither witless nor devoid of understanding. Any more than it makes your opinion a fact. I’d say your humility was showing, but you wouldn’t in a million years recognize that as ironic.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Actually, savio, steve is right. Updated!

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            Thanks for that, Allison.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            Wow. Interesting to see people cave to the Dawkins mafia in the same way the media tip-toes around the Church. More than interesting. I can think of other words.

            In case you’re interested, get a look at what Dawkins actually said. Ready? Here:

            “This former head of the Inquisition should be arrested the moment he dares to set foot outside his tinpot fiefdom of the Vatican, and he should be tried in an appropriate civil – not ecclesiastical – court. That’s what should happen.”

            Of course, Dawkins didn’t specify in Britain or say he’d personally apply the handcuffs. And never mind that the meaning of his actual statement isn’t substantively changed by either technicality–it’s hair-splitting time!

            The above quote, btw, comes from a little-known source called the Washington Post. Link: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/richard_dawkins/2010/03/ratzinger_is_the_perfect_pope.html

            Now, tell me–is Dawkins going to breathe hard on The Guardian for ITS headline (“Richard Dawkins Calls for Pope to Be Put on Trail”)?

            The New York Times (“British Campaigners Threaten Pope With Arrest”)?

            Huffington Post (“Richard Dawkins: Arrest the Pope During UK Visit”)?

            MSNBC.com (same as NYT headline)?

            Or how about Reuters (“British campaigners threaten pope with arrest”)?

            We have better things to do than bow to bullshit simply because it’s produced by a celebrity skeptic. Especially one whose fans are collectively unable to distinguish fact from opinion or an essentially accurate paraphrase from an instance of slander.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            “the Dawkins mafia”

            Interesting phrase there, savio. Anyone defending the Catholic church against allegations of wrongdoing probably shouldn’t invoke the shade of Michele Sidone.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    I’m kinda torn with this article. In a way I agree. Anyone regardless of power, wealth, or religious background should be held accountable for their actions. Especially if it involves a crime.
    Yet what I’m torn about is not that this guy wants to bring the Pope to justice, but that he’s an atheist looking to fulfill his own agenda. Now I don’t know this for sure, but its like a Christian using a issue to prove their view over a Muslim or vice versa.
    I believe a better form of Justice would be if the Catholic people would wake up and see all the hypocrisy in their church and rise up to hold ALL the hierarchy of the church responsible for these atrocities!

    • collapse expand

      Well, but saying that only Catholics have the objectivity (!) to prosecute Catholic crimes is precisely the attitude of the Church that got us (by which I mean, them) into this mess in the first place.

      The only agenda of Dawkins and Hitchens is dismantle an international syndicate (one of the world’s largest incorporations) that, apparently, serves as a refuge and network for child molesters.

      I believe a better form of Justice would be if the Catholic people would wake up and see all the hypocrisy in their church and rise up to hold ALL the hierarchy of the church responsible for these atrocities!

      But we don’t, as a rule, insist in any other context that “jury of one’s peers” means that a criminal can only be arrested, tried, judged, and convicted by individuals who share their faith. Muslim pedophiles are convicted by juries of Christians, Jews, and yes even atheists. Buddhist pedophiles are convicted with, most likely, not even a single other Buddhist anywhere else in the courtroom.

      Why should Catholic pedophiles and their accomplices get special consideration? Why should Catholicism be privileged in that way?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  8. collapse expand

    it is surely time in 2010 that any organisation that condones such behaviour whether in the past or present should have all government support withdrawn.tax free status’ states paying for visits security etc. it is an insult to all the people of the world dead or alive who were abused by these perverts acting as priests that they are still running these so called churches and controlling weak minded people with their scare tactics and mumbo jumbois a travesty….. but then i am always amazed at how unfair and backwards thinking the laws of many countries are even in this day and age.. we surely have a long way to go before we are a civilised caring sharing planet

  9. collapse expand

    By the logic of this post, every governor as well as the President should be arrested every time a public school teacher molested a public school student and worked with public school students again. What authorities actually knew at the time about treatment and therapy doesn’t occur to your post at all.

    • collapse expand

      If they cover for child rapists, yes, they should probably be asked to step down and/or be prosecuted for sheltering child rapists. The Pope wasn’t concerned with therapy. He was concerned with putting off punishing abusive priests for “the good of the Universal Church”. If that meant allowing children to be raped, so be it.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Any governor or President who assisted a pedophile teacher in a flight from prosecution so they could continue to teach, as Joseph Ratzinger has done for his priests, should be arrested.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      There are two crimes here. The first is the initial abuse. This seems to be on a huge scale – one internal Catholic report says that 4% of the clergy are involved. Individual cases have involved hundreds of children. There are tens of thousands of lawsuits, and that’s very clearly only the tip of the iceberg.

      The second is the cover up. I don’t think anyone’s accused Ratzinger or Wojtyła of abusing children. It’s clear, now, though that they knew what was going on, and that both before and during their papacies, they were complicit in the Vatican moving abusers around, rather than punishing them. The policy was, and still is, to avoid embarrassment to the church by hushing things up.

      And this is, in many ways, the greater crime. Any organization that works with millions of children for decades will see child abusers. It’s what you do about that which matters.

      And, yes, if it turned out that a state governor knew a teacher had been raping kids, and decided to give him a five figure sum of money to move to a tropical island (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8556659.stm) or moved him to a country with no extradition treaty (http://www.salon.com/life/2010/04/05/church_abuse_1/index.html), then that state governor should be investigated, by the FBI and courts, not by people working for him. If that governor became President, then, yes, of course that still applies. If a President can be forced from office because he let a handful of people bug a hotel room, he can be forced from office because he let thousands of people bugger young children.

      Child abuse thrives when abusers don’t think they’ll be punished. A teacher knows they can be sacked for making a lewd remark. A Catholic priest knows that he won’t be sacked if he rapes two hundred boys, that the worst that will happen is that they’ll buy him a house somewhere nice and sunny. The hushing up *facilitates* further abuse, we have Ratzinger’s signature on a letter, where the context is perfectly clear, saying ‘hush it up’.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      do you have a learning disability? or are you just another lemming protecting pedophiles?
      the pope signed a letter to all cardinals and bishops to sweep this under the rug and give total non-compliance to law enforcement. rather than correct the problem he played musical chairs! he was directly in command of how this played out.
      locally i read of feelings being hurt about ruining easter for catholics. how about ruining complete lives of innocent children?
      what part of a legal document don’t you get? oh, i forgot. you can deny the same as scientific proof that lucy, ida and ardi are on your family tree.
      time to get your head out of that very dark place it’s been.
      the pope is the head of a church/cult. yes, cult.
      and these are crimes against children. even convicts don’t tolerate this behavior. wow, something any good christian can learn from convicted convicts.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    The comparison between the Pope and Warren Jeffs doesn’t really work. Warren Jeffs intentionally arranged for the statutory rape of young girls.

    Also, as someone who’s completely laodicean, I feel particularly suited to say that arresting the Pope sounds like a silly way to deal with a situation like this.

    • collapse expand

      Joe Ratzinger assisted in the flight from prosecution over international borders for pedophile priests. Are you sure arresting him for his complicity in crimes against children is “silly”? It doesn’t seem “silly” in any way to me. Actually nothing about Catholic sex abuse of children seems “silly”, to me – the words I would have chosen would be “monstrous”, “offensive”, “enraging”, “disgusting”, and “criminal.” Not to mention “in direct violation of a number of treaties to which the Vatican is signatory.”

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      It’s only silly if you think criminals should be held accountable for their crimes, which I know is a popular mindset these days — what with all of us looking “forward, and not backward”.

      Benedict put the church’s image above the safety of children, a disgusting and deplorable decision that should bear consequences — even if he wears a special hat and claims an invisible daddy figure talks to him sometimes.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        The hat is silly and the “daddy figure” probably isn’t real, but let’s not be clouded by that.

        But if you arrest the Pope you’re punishing a billion people who find something meaningful in the stodgy old institution he represents. Right now there’s a chance the Church will actually reexamine itself and change the way it does things, but if we arrested the Pope there’s no doubt it would turn inward and grow even more introverted.

        It would be nice if we could look at this problem without being sucked into that same old boring trap of bickering between the “god people” and the “no god people.” Neither side is very rational.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          Oops, feel free to edit out that second “but.”

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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          I fail to see how holding criminals accountable for their crimes “punishes a billion people.” Wouldn’t good Catholics want child rapists, and their facilitators, removed from God’s house?

          The state doesn’t allow other corrupt institutions to self-examine and dispatch internal regulators to “correct” their illegal behavior, and the reason the government doesn’t permit this should be self-evident. It’s a recipe for corruption as the church has so beautifully demonstrated.

          It’s fine if the church wants to wear silly hats and pray to the imaginary daddy figure, but it should lose its autonomy when child rape becomes an acceptable part of the cult.

          This isn’t a dispute between the “god people” and the “no god people.” I don’t care if people choose to believe in fantasy. (Though I don’t think their playtime should be tax exempt, but that’s another conversation). However, no one (regardless of denomination) has the right to rape children, and anyone who harbors such criminals should be held accountable.

          This is really a dispute between the law-abiding people and the people who believe priests, and the Pope, are above the law.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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            “I fail to see how holding criminals accountable for their crimes “punishes a billion people.”

            Well, exactly. There were people who argued that people liked Polanski’s films, therefore we should forgive him, too.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  11. collapse expand

    I think that arresting the Pope would be a long awaited wake up call for the church. The world is sick to death of hearing about their harboring pedophiles and claiming they never knew the problem was as widespread as it was. Its long past due that the Catholic church pay the piper. There needs to be a lawsuit on this and he must stand trial. Anyone thinking anything less doesn’t want justice for the victims.

    Until the trial, he’d be in solitary confinement, which seems perfectly acceptable since the victims had to sign a silence agreement about the abuse. I mean, really, how hideous and archaic can you get.? Were they ever in the 20th century? Are they now? If not, then this should get them up to snuff with the laws.

  12. collapse expand

    Arrest the pope, seize all of the churchs property and assets worldwide and use them to pay the victims of sexual abuse as well as the victims of the churchs many collaborations with right-wing regimes including Nazi Germany and many countries in Central and South America.

  13. collapse expand

    I only have one thing to say.

    We are all created in God’s image, but only in image, we are not him.

    There are too many atheists already running around trying to run the world, and it’s only a matter of time before God himself turns his back on humanity and brings us to our end.

    This situation is simply an atheist trying to prove that there is no God. Trying to “force” his view upon others.

    As I said before, we are only made in God’s image, we are not him. The Pope is not perfect. I feel as long as he makes an effort to stop “pedophile priests” then he is doing the right thing. This is just simply another way of trying to destroy religion. We already have outlawed prayer in schools. People get offended and sue others at the mere mention of God if they don’t want to hear it, and they are backed up by a government full of people that have forgotten the very foundations of the country, raised on the values of God.

    Only a matter of time before we all burn in hell, for sure.

    Society makes me sick.

    • collapse expand

      Dude, the Pope wears a key on his waist. Um…the key to heaven. Not a “perceived or mythical” key (which would be awesome), but the actual key to the gates to heaven.

      You said, “The Pope is not perfect.” Hold on a second. He’s pretty close. Look at all the pedophile employees he has protected by obstructing justice and now try to count how many are currently in jail. Don’t shoot down the Ratz-man. He’s doing pretty well.

      Also, you had more than “one thing to say.” Oh and religion does a pretty wonderful job of destroying religion without the help of others.

      I have burned in hell, twice. Its called Coachella.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Just to point out, we have categorically NOT outlawed prayer in schools. We have outlawed MANDATORY prayer in PUBLIC schools. There’s quite a chasm of difference between the two propositions.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Mr Hudak,

      You’re clearly a man of faith.

      It’s people like you who are the victims, here. Atheists don’t send their kids to Catholic schools. It’s people like you and your children that the church has abused.

      And when it comes to ‘forcing’, atheists are expressing their beliefs. Catholic priests – by the church’s own estimate, one in twenty of them, forcing *themselves* on children.

      The problem is not atheists, the danger is, with respect, people like you who’ll let priests rape their kids and blame anyone but the perpetrators.

      If God would turn his back on humanity because there are a few atheists, but has only turned a blind eye when his representatives here on earth create an international network of child rapists … well, we’d be better off without a god.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    Isn’t it kind of impossible to arrest the Pope. After all, he is the head of the Catholic church, yes, but isn’t he also the head of state for the Holy See/Vatican. So, doesn’t he enjoy the same amount of diplomatic immunity as the diplo-douche that joked about lighting fires on a plane and then lit a fire, or the creepy Apartheid-loving fascist that blew up Mel Gibson’s mobile home in Lethal Weapon? All of this is very techo-political jargon, I know, but he is immune to prosecution, right?

  15. collapse expand

    Listen up. Dawkins did not say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI.”

    All he actually said was, “This former head of the Inquisition should be arrested the moment he dares to set foot outside his tinpot fiefdom of the Vatican, and he should be tried in an appropriate civil – not ecclesiastical – court.”

    See the huge difference? Meanwhile, Dawkins supported and has helped along a proposed legal challenge to the Pope’s visit to Britain. And he would like to see state status taken away from the Vatican so that the Pope will no longer enjoy Head of State immunity from international law. He is intrigued by that proposal.

    So… he wants the guy arrested the moment he steps outside of the Vatican, wants his visit to Britain stopped, and wants to see the Catholic Church tumble, “amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about [Ratzinger's] ears.” But to suggest in a headline that he himself plans to do the arresting–why, that’s slander! Gross misrepresentation of his real feelings, views, and intentions.

    Hm–what does Reuters have to say about all this?

    “British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins will try to have Pope Benedict arrested to face questions over the Catholic church’s child abuse scandal when he visits Britain later this year, one of his lawyers said Sunday.”

    Now, now–that “will try to” part simply gives the wrong impression. Yet another example of the Dawkins-is-full-of-himself meme in action. The man is actually genteel, humble, and reluctant to say or write anything that might be construed as a call to action. Such as declaring that the Pope “should be arrested the moment he dares to set foot outside his tinpot fiefdom of the Vatican.”

    He didn’t actually write that, of course. It’s on some fake site called RichardDawkins.Net, which clearly has no connection with Richard Dawkins.

    • collapse expand

      “See the huge difference?”

      Yes. That you fail to is possibly some personal problem on your part.

      The story, or at least headline, portrayed Dawkins as some sort of crazed activist determined to make some publicity-seeking ‘citizen’s arrest’ and slap fake handcuffs on the Pope.

      The *reality* is that he wrote an article saying that the Pope shouldn’t be above the law, and that he broadly supports *other people’s* efforts to create legal challenges that may embarrass either the UK government or Vatican into cancelling the Pope’s ’state’ visit.

      Different. See?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  16. collapse expand

    I don’t like the church or this pope and I think it would be great if England asked him not to come there, since it was the first country to kick him out in the first place.

    But…there’s some potentially large holes in this claim, and as much as I hate the church and love not molesting children, I also believe in truth, journalism, rule of law, etc.
    Here are those alleged points:

    1) The man’s superior (U.S. bishop Cummings) had the authority and primary responsibility to defrock the priest himself
    2) He should have
    3) He had 3 years to do it (Kiesle arrested in 1978…letter sent to Vatican in 1981)
    4) In those years he never reported the child abuse itself to the Vatican
    5) When he did finally request laicization (for other reasons) it was a year before Ratzinger ever took that office
    6) Even when Ratzinger took the office, the letter from Kiesle didn’t say anything about that problem (per #4 and #5)

    Also, here’s a nice timeline, although it omits much of what has been alleged above:

  17. collapse expand

    I’d hoped for some response to my careful and, I think, perfectly valid and sharp calling out of Dawkins, who loves to play the “I didn’t say that” game after saying or writing something inflammatory. (Which is what, seven days a week?) He spares nothing to attract (read: provoke) media attention, then he protests like the practiced flirt he is–all so he can play the victim for his teenage audience. I’ve demonstrated that his latest grandstanding routine consists of lies (using a meaningless technicality to deny the substance of words that are out there for anyone to Google), manipulation, and the usual sarcastic display of arrogance that is his brand.

    But to no effect. The Times put a phrase in his mouth he didn’t say, and never mind that the real examples are both funnier and even MORE self-important! When Dawkins tops Dawkins, the End Times must be just around the corner.

    Bottom line, allison–a person of religion who behaved half as dishonestly and self-importantly as Dawkins would rate an essay’s worth of sarcastic, get-out-of-Dodge censure from you. The double standard is too absurd.

    I’m not leaving T/S–just your corner of it. ‘Bye.

  18. collapse expand

    a billion dissillusioned catholics. and the pope going to jail for a crime changes your status how?
    you’ll still be living in your fantasy world.
    remove the tax exempt status of all religions and see how long they stay in business.
    you would still pray at home. that’s your choice and i will still do nothing to prevent you from doing that. but it will keep religion away from my door, off my tv and out of my life. where i want it.
    the usa has played it’s part in removing corrupt leaders in the world. and if you claim this cult as a independant state then you need to relinquish your citizenship now. as you know the u.s. does not recognize dual citizenship.
    so which is it. you may be a billion strong, but you won’t live under the constitution of the united states.
    this is a legal issue, not about opinion of choice. so prosecute him. if he’s innocent he walks. but with signed documents he at least is a willing accessory.
    i want to see it in court. not an agenda.

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    About Me

    I co-host Citizen Radio, the alternative political radio show. I am a contributing reporter to Huffington Post, Alternet.org, and The Nation.

    My essay "Youth Surviving Subprime" appears in The Nation's new book, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover beside esssays by Ralph Nader, Joseph Stiglitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naomi Klein, who I'm told are all important people.

    G. Gordon Liddy once told me my writing makes him want to vomit, which is the greatest compliment I've ever been paid ever.

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