12 Sep 2010

The Pope escapes arrest in the UK

I wrote about this matter in November 2009 (see: Child Sex Abuse Scandal Rocks Ireland) but some will be wondering what this is about. Prof Richard Dawkins had made calls for The Pope to be arrested and charged with ‘crimes against humanity’ in April 2010 (Times 2010-04-11). However, as the months rolled on the eminent Geoffrey Robertson QC was reported to concede that the Pope would not be arrested in the upcoming UK visit. Arrested for what? Under The Rome Statute individuals can be charged with ‘crimes against humanity’ (in specific circumstances if they are one of the State Parties). 

Huge protests are expected here in the UK. Geoffrey Robertson QC is one of five select jurists in the UN’s internal justice system responsible for holding UN officials accountable for corruption and mismanagement (C-FAM 2010-04-08). Robertson is an Oxford Rhodes Scholar. He is no fool!

In his book published last Friday - The Case of the Pope: Vatican accountability for human rights abuseRobertson QC is reported to refer to the Vatican as a “rogue State”. The Captain has purchased this book and will be studying it intensely. “Mr Robertson has laid out a powerful and cogently explained case in which he urges the international community to press the Catholic Church into abandoning canon law, the ancient set of ecclesiastical rules that also define disciplinary provisions for offences ranging from sex crimes to ordaining women” says The Age – 2010-09-08.

The Guardian 2010-09-11 reports that under Canon Law, …"penalties" for raping children include such draconian measures as warnings, rebukes, extra prayers, counselling and a few months on retreat. It is even possible to interpret canon law as claiming that a valid defence for paedophile offences is paedophilia. Since child abusers are supposedly incapable of controlling their sexual urges, this can be used in their defence.Just read that again – so, a defence to GBH or robbery could be the fact that the perpetrator is afflicted by criminality!!!

All this is the spatter from The Murphy Report 2004 (in Ireland) on Child Sex Abuse (CSA) spanning some 60 years. Hundreds of Catholic Priests were to be implicated (Interfaith 2009-05-19). In 2003 the Irish Government offered compensation to victims of the sex-abuse to the sum of £725 Million, based on a lower estimate of 10,000 victims! However, if all 150,000 suspected victims were to successfully claim, the sum could rise to £10.8 Billion (Telegraph 2009-05-20).

The Papal visit is expected to cost at least cool £12 Million – but that cost may go up depending on the scale of any unrest. Birmingham will near the spotlights and - you never know – the Jumbie could well be attending this historic event!!! The Pope is to honour and beatify the Victorian churchman and writer Cardinal John Henry Newman – making him a saint. A congregation of some 70,000 is expected at a park close to Birmingham. (FT 2010-09-10).

The Financial Times 2010-09-10 states that the Pope is likely to meet with protests when he visits the UK on 16th September 2010. They say that he “…stands naked before the blast of secular charges that now assails him with mounting force… has used both his quasi-divine authority and the Vatican’s statehood to push his church into more active hostility towards homosexuality, and above all homosexual marriage and adoption by homosexual couples; abortion, under any circumstances whatsoever; in vitro fertilisation; divorce; condoms, even where these are shown to reduce Aids; the ordination of women and the marriage of priests.”

The Examiner 2010-04-10 has been more scathing: “There is no doubt the behavior of the Pope has been criminal. Indeed most of the Catholic hierarchy participated on some level in the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children. For decades they denied, obfuscated, and covered-up the sexual abuse of countless children throughout the world.

Dawkins’ welcome to the Pope was “Mr Ratzinger, as head of the world’s second most evil religion you are not welcome. True, your church recently “pardoned” Galileo (four centuries late), and eventually revoked its historic anti-Semitism. But the equally long-established misogyny remains. On almost all issues concerned with sex, contraception, population and reproduction your stance is illiberal, inhumane and immoral, and your propaganda claim that condoms don’t protect against AIDS is scientifically inaccurate and murderously cynical. In criminally shielding child-raping priests from justice you have placed the welfare of your church ahead of your victims. Go home to your tinpot Mussolini-concocted principality, and don’t come back.” See Dawkins – Audience with the Pope

More sex abuse

It gets worse. An inquiry in Belgium heard 475 complaints of sex-abuse committed in the 1950s through to the late 1980s by Catholic clergy. “Because all sex is banned to priests, abuse of minors is lumped in with – and is apparently seen as less serious than – “living in concubinage”. The stress on salvation means that “punishment” is a matter of prayers, fasting, a retreat or community service: typically, offending priests are moved to other parishes – but rarely to posts where contact with children is unlikely. The result, very often, is more molesting.” (FT 2010-09-10).

The Vatican was allegedly angered when the Belgium police raided and broke up a meeting of Catholic bishops engaged in discussing paedophile priests. (BBC News 2010-06-28).

History

The first child sex scandal in the Catholic church took place in AD153, long before there was a "gay culture" or Jewish journalists for bishops to blame it on. By the 1960s, the problem had become so dire that a cleric responsible for the care of "erring" priests wrote to the Vatican suggesting that it acquire a Caribbean island to put them on. (The Guardian 2010-09-11)

The Pope has been tangled up in legal proceedings about sex-abuse in the USA before. But the US authorities have always found a way to bail him out on technicalities. Robertson and others will have been sharpening their axes from all that. (This is a good read: Fox News 2005-05-09).

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 …. to be continued (This is a long one and the story does not just stop there. I will need to update this page so stay tuned).
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2010-09-19 - Brief Update

For those interested in this fascinating topic, the full update will take longer than I anticipated. I’m giving only a brief update here of what’s happened or happening.

I received Robertson’s book - The Case of the Pope: Vatican accountability for human rights abuseon 17th September at work. I was rather avoidant to open it, even though it was in my hands. No – not afraid of any bolts of lightning I should explain. I was probably just anxious about the scale of the abuse I might be exposed to. Well as G.F.P. are my middle initials (i.e. Glutton For Punishment), I  opened the book and did a good preview. Chryist!! I was assaulted by unspeakable horror!!

Robertson’s brilliance is dazzling - his depth and breadth of knowledge of the law and rights in this area, is unmatched. International Law is a really difficult topic, but he simplifies it for my understanding. But it is not easy reading, I tell you.

The task and challenge I set myself is far greater than I could have imagined. I estimate it will take me between 4 and 6 weeks from today, to map out to my satisfaction the full update. This story is so amazing and so full of potential misunderstandings, that I feel a sense of duty to present it in a very full way. The full update will contain mindmaps, timelines and a legal analysis.

But to keep your appetite going, have a read of these:

  1. Geoffrey Robertson’s case is based on caricature and ignorance
  2. Victims of abuse by priests speak out: 'There's this wall of silence'
  3. Rally against the Pope in Hyde Park – see speakers and placards (near end of page).

Interesting videos:

Best regards

Captain G.F.P Walker.

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