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View Full Version : Pope Should Be Given Immunity For Sex Crimes??


Bard
09-20-2005, 01:40 PM
:wtf

Updated: 02:59 PM EDT
U.S. Says Pope Should Be Given Immunity
By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP


AFP/Getty ImagesThe lawsuit alleges that Pope Benedict XVI, before becoming pope, was involved in a conspiracy to hide a seminarian's crimes.



ROME (Sept. 20) - The U.S. government has told a Texas court that Pope Benedict XVI should be given immunity from a lawsuit accusing him of conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian, court documents show.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Peter Keisler said in Monday's filing that, as pope, Benedict enjoys immunity as the head of a state - the Vatican. He said allowing the lawsuit to proceed would be "incompatible with the United States' foreign policy interests."

There was no immediate ruling from Judge Lee Rosenthal of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, who has been presiding over the case. However, the Supreme Court has held that U.S. courts are bound by such "suggestion of immunity" motions submitted by the government, Keisler's filing says.

A 1994 lawsuit against Pope John Paul II, also filed in Texas, was dismissed after the U.S. government filed a similar motion.

The Vatican Embassy in Washington had asked the U.S. government to issue the immunity suggestion and do everything it can to get the case dismissed. As a result, Keisler's motion was not unexpected.

In the lawsuit, which names the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as a defendant, the three plaintiffs claim that a Colombian-born seminarian on assignment at St. Francis de Sales church in Houston, Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, molested them during counseling sessions in the mid-1990s.

Many lawsuits stemming from the U.S. church sex abuse crisis have named the pope, the Vatican and other high-ranking church officials, but they failed because the officials could never be served with the papers. This case got further than most recent ones because Ratzinger was served with the documents.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See said they were familiar with the case but had no other immediate comment. The Vatican said it had no comment.

Along with the pope, the lawsuit names as defendants Patino-Arango, the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza and the Rev. William Pickhard, Patino-Arango's vocational director.

Patino-Arango has been indicted in a criminal case by a Harris County, Texas, grand jury and is a fugitive from justice.

The lawsuit alleges that Ratzinger, who headed the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming pope, was involved in a conspiracy to hide Patino-Arango's crimes and to help him escape prosecution.

The lawsuit cites a May 18, 2001, letter from Ratzinger, written in Latin to bishops around the world, explaining that "grave" crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors would be handled by his congregation and that the proceedings of special church tribunals handling the cases were subject to "pontifical secret."

Fiorenza has said that claims that Ratzinger's 2001 letter amounted to a conspiracy "is a total and complete misunderstanding of the purpose of the letter."

Daniel Shea, attorney for one of the three plaintiffs, has said that if the pope is granted immunity, he would challenge the constitutionality of the U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Holy See on grounds that it goes against the First Amendment's "establishment clause" barring any laws respecting the establishment of religion.

"Here is what we've been waiting for," Shea said in an e-mail Tuesday in providing the documents. "Now the constitutional conflict is on in earnest."

However, legal experts said such a challenge would be difficult to win, in part because previous challenges have failed and because the United States has maintained diplomatic relations with the Vatican since 1984.

"The courts have become a lot less interested in the establishment clause in the last few years," said Kent Greenawalt, a professor of First Amendment and legal philosophy at Columbia Law School and the author of "Does God Belong in Public Schools?"


09/20/05 11:55 EDT

BunnyBun
09-20-2005, 01:55 PM
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Peter Keisler said in Monday's filing that, as pope, Benedict enjoys immunity as the head of a state - the Vatican. He said allowing the lawsuit to proceed would be "incompatible with the United States' foreign policy interests."

If this is true, that he gets immunity, then it seems the issue that needs to be resolved, or changed in the future, is whether he is immune. If the Pope has been viewed as immune in the past, then he should be now, legally speaking (morally speaking that's a different issue). You can't just change the definitions of who is immune because you want to go after that person but not this one.

But the second part of the statement that bothers me, as it makes it sound like we're only invoking that because it's in our own best interest. Errr, what about all the victims of the sex abuse?

Lyn Is Snide
09-20-2005, 02:01 PM
Officials at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See said they were familiar with the case but had no other immediate comment. The Vatican said it had no comment.

:mad:

Peregrina
09-20-2005, 10:17 PM
all heads of state have immunity, the diplomats adn their staff have diplomatic immunity, if you have enough fame and/or money you have immunity. :) if you change the immunity for one person, you have to change it for all.

in my personal opinion, all the bishops and priests and yes, the pope, should be charged with immorality or deriliction of duty or something like that, for knowing what was happening and turning a blind eye.

basca
09-20-2005, 10:36 PM
in my personal opinion, all the bishops and priests and yes, the pope, should be charged with immorality or deriliction of duty or something like that, for knowing what was happening and turning a blind eye.

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b117/basca/Whatever/exactly.gif

Rabbit392
09-21-2005, 01:00 AM
The victims should try another tact ...

Under Federal law non profits, charities and religious organizations can lose their tax status (not paying taxes) for violations of US law.

There are federal laws that apply to sexual assault, deprivation of rights of personal property (your body) and efforts to hide evidence of those crimes.

The victims should be pushing to get the Church's tax exempt status revoked.

The problem with applying the Head of State protection is that in the past when a person is no longer a Head of State they are free to be prosecuted and sued. That is not going to happen obviously with the Pope.

And I don't think it should apply to crimes/acts that were committed BEFORE the person attained the ammunity standard. I say let 'em sue the pope!

bagbalm
09-21-2005, 05:59 AM
I would argue that it should be unconstitutional to recognize any religion as a state. And that if the Catholic Church is a state then any of it's clergy are to be registered as agents of a foreign government, and anyone contributing to the church is funding a foreign power. If in the future any action of the church is recognized as a criminal enterprise such contributors are all conspirators. Just as anyone writing a check to Hamas would be.