HELL TO PAY: Dawkins & Hitchens Plan To Have The Pope Arrested For ‘Crimes Against Humanity’


TIMES ONLINE: 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 popefinal1.jpgto 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.” MORE

RELATED: Ms. Costello, now 48 and on disability because of arthritis, says that Mr. Kiesle — who was ordained as a priest in 1972 — first playfully invited her to sit on his lap, part of a youthful demeanor that he fostered, she said, including wearing purple tennis shoes in church. “He was considered to be the Pied Piper,” Ms. Costello recalled in an interview. “He was a kid. And who doesn’t like a big kid?” But Ms. Costello says Father Kiesle’s touching and tickling soon progressed to fondling her chest and genitals. “He told me the devil was inside me,” she said, adding that the priest sometimes cast his actions as an exorcism. “I always knew that I was uncomfortable and that it wasn’t right.” Her account came on the same day a priest in Massachusetts used his sermon to condemn the church’s handling of the broader sexual abuse scandal, describing some in the clergy as “felons” and suggesting that Benedict resign. Nearly a decade after the abuse described by Ms. Costello, Father Kiesle was convicted in 1978 of tying up and molesting two boys in another California church rectory. But he was not defrocked until 1987 — despite concerns voiced to the Vatican over several years by Bishop John S. Cummins of Oakland. MORE

RELATED: “We must personally and collectively declare that we very much doubt the veracity of the pope and those of church authority who are defending him or even falling on the sword on his behalf,” said the priest, the Rev. James J. Scahill of St. Michael’s Parish in East Longmeadow. “It is beginning to become evident that for decades, if not centuries, church leadership covered up the abuse of children and minors to protect its institutional image and the image of priesthood.”MORE

RELATED: The world didn’t always agree with Pope John Paul II, but it always seemed to love him. Handsome and charismatic, with an actor’s flair and a statesman’s confidence, he transformed the papacy from an Italian anachronism into a globe-trotting phenomenon. His authority stabilized a reeling church; his personal holiness inspired a generation of young Catholics. “Santo subito!” the Roman crowds chanted as he lay dying. Sainthood now! They will not chant for Benedict XVI. The former Joseph Ratzinger was always going to be a harder pontiff for the world to love: more introverted than his predecessor, less political and peripatetic, with the crags and wrinkles of a sinister great-uncle. While the last pope held court with presidents and rock stars, Cardinal Ratzinger was minding the store in Rome, jousting with liberal theologians and being caricatured as “God’s Rottweiler.” His reward was supposed to be retirement, and a return to scholarly pursuits. Instead, he was summoned to Peter’s chair — and, it seems, to disaster. MORE


RELATED: The Pope just got Pedobear’d. The meme, which if you’re unfamiliar with is exactly what you think it is, appeared on this billboard of Pope. Equally as entertaining is that The Times of Malta, who broke this story, mistook the mischievous Pedobear as a “panda.” Internet 1. Times of Malta 0. (via dlisted) MORE

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