When Pope Benendict resigned, Cardinal O’Malley lamented that “the demands of extensive international travel, played a central role in his decision”.
And he’s undoubtedly right. Though the “demands” are perhaps a bit different from what the Church would have us believe. His fear is likely less about falling and breaking a hip than it is facing increasing international condemnation.
The internet got a moment of excitement yesterday when something calling itself “the International Tribunal into Crimes Against Church and State” declared that it has issued a summons for Joseph Ratziger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, to appear before it and answer for his crimes against humanity. But they have roughly the same authority that I have, so that’s worth little more than histrionic denouncements from a soap box. What they did say, however, that was of interest was this:
On Friday, February 1, 2013, on the basis of evidence supplied by our affiliated Common Law Court of Justice (itccs.org), our Office concluded an agreement with representatives of a European nation and its courts to secure an arrest warrant against Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict, for crimes against humanity and ordering a criminal conspiracy.
I highly doubt that they have an agreement with any nation for Ratzinger to be arrested and brought to them for judgment. They also declare that “Common Law peace officers [aka people without any legal authority] working for our de jure Court and Tribunal will apprehend [aka kidnap]” the Pope and drag him there in chains and that this Easter they will seize the assets of the Church. Cue the circus music.
But what I do think is possible is that some nation soon will, under their own laws, issue an arrest warrant for Ratzinger based on his involvement in the global cover-up of child molestation by Catholic Priests. As more documents are being demanded – and produced – it is becoming increasingly clear that before ascending to the Papal See, Ratzinger was individually responsible for keeping authorities unaware of abuse and for using international law to hide and protect priests who engaged in the most horrific abuse of trust. And even more likely is that a nation will refuse entry to a known criminal.
As head of state of the Vatican, Benedict would have diplomatic immunity. But the embarrassment would be seriously detrimental to the Church’s continued influence. And even if the Pope were to have continued in his position, he would have been forced to limit his travels to the extent that he would be a virtual prisoner in the Vatican. Reuters suggests that this is probably his fate in any case.
Pope Benedict’s decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.
“His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.
And, indeed, if he does leave the compound, his life will increasingly be less dignified. Though it’s unlikely he’ll ever be arrested for his crimes, fewer political leaders will wish to be gracious to a man whom they know chose with full knowledge to turn the young children entrusted to his Church’s care over to pedophile rapists.
Yes, his criminal past has made it impossible for him to meet the demands of extensive international travel.