Vatican Invokes Diplomatic Immunity to Bar Questioning of Pope On Abuse Scandal

Giuseppe dalla Torre, head of the Vatican’s tribunal, has reportedly declared that efforts to question Pope Benedict on the widening abuse scandal would be refused on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Dalla Torre stated The pope is certainly a head of state, who has the same juridical status as all heads of state” and thus immune. That interpretation would likely be upheld by U.S. courts.

For the full story, click here.

33 thoughts on “Vatican Invokes Diplomatic Immunity to Bar Questioning of Pope On Abuse Scandal

  1. It goes like this, it applies so long as he is in a country that recognizes immunity and he is in office. Once out of his comfort zone and in a country that does not recognize the same. He is free game…..

  2. Don’t worry AY, the pontiff won’t make such an amateur mistake as traveling to one of THOSE countries. Remember, he has effectively covered up child rape for more than three decades in dozens of countries!

  3. Apparently neither the Pope nor his lawyers recognize the dangers in invoking diplomatic immunity. It is not a question of whether that defense will be successful. Even if it is, the legal victory will mean nothing. As I have previously stated, Pope Benedict needs to resign and the Church needs to clean house, even if it means spending every last dime in the Vatican treasury. Once the issue of abuse came to light in this country, whose Catholics have been far more independent and critical of the hierarchy, it was inevitable that in due course the scandal would spread to the much more conservative European Church. Despite that inevitability, Church leaders continued obstructionist and protectionist policies, policies which were doomed to fail politically as well as morally.

    The Vatican’s historical refusal to permit bishops to refer instances of abuse to civilian authorities has its genesis in a time in which canon law trumped national sovereignty on both civil and criminal issues involving the clergy. At its most fundamental level, the current crisis is a perfect example of the evils that separation of church and state is intended to prevent.

    Unfortunately, Church leadership is still dominated by a European mentality. The long-term consequences will be devastating and may even lead to schism.

  4. Sorry, Mike. Their site was having problems this AM. It it seems to be working again, though — at least from here.

  5. I have yet to hear any statement on the previous occupant of this wretched office, and his fast-track to sainthood, even though much of the abuse alleged in filings about which we know anything at all happened on his watch.

    The NAACP broke the spine of the KKK in civil court through relentless legal action that bankrupted the klan. This is where the vatican is headed. They will be lucky if it does not end in fire. There are people’s KIDS fer cryin out loud…

  6. Roflol,

    wouldn’t that undermine the notion of papal infallibility?

    I think the pope might be ready for his nobel peace prize nomination…

    And not that I have any personal experience with this, but have these abuser-priests and pastors considered smoking dope? I hear it decreases one’s libido….

  7. Jericho, pot’s effects are specific to the individual. I know a guy who smokes it and stops breathing. Another smokes it and gets sick to his stomach. These people will not be smoking regardless of its legal status. For myself, I can report ZERO interruption in the circuitry leading to the lions; if anything, it intensifies with age.

    So I’m not sure dope would cure Roman Hands and Russian Fingers. The full weight of the law falling like a ton of bricks seems far more appropriate.

  8. ABC’s Nightline ran a piece about one particular case of an influential priest accused of molesting pre-adult boys. The current pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, was (according to the story) put in a political bind between his responsibility of investigating the accusations versus the political connections and influence of the accused. That, in and of itself, is interesting. But … the best part of the story is that when the American reporter approached the Cardinal a few years ago and asked about this individual, the Cardinal SWATS/SMACKS HIS HAND! It’s astounding from my cultural perspective to watch one adult smack (technically assault) another adult in this way.

  9. I suggest that we cut to the chase and place the real culprit, “God”, on trial—in absentia, of course, by *His* own choice of waiving due process under the 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments—because B-I-B-L-E scripture nowhere reveals that *HE*, the Lord, has diplomatic immunity.

  10. FFLEO,

    For some reason that reminds me of the time my English class held a trail over the killing in “Shane.”

  11. Gyges,

    ‘Shane’ was a neat movie and that English class sounds like one I would have enjoyed. What was the Jury’s verdict?

  12. FFLEO,

    It was an even better book. Thanks to my jury engineering, he got off (the defense bribed us with pizza and soda, which was better than the prosecutors pizza).

    The class was actually a pretty mixed bag, the teacher had some good ideas, but was a little unstable sometimes. In retrospect think I just caught her on the wrong year, there might have something going on outside of her job.

  13. Ol’ Giuseppe is pulling strings again but this time the Pope is the wooden dummy instead of Pinocchio…

    I can imagine the pope and all those other pious Catholic priests telling all those young, nubile, prepubescent boys all over the world; now, be good little boys and “always let your conscience be your guide”. And, each night, when you hear my footsteps walking down that long, dark hallway to your room and I “give a little whistle” you will know what is in store for you. No need to cry out, because no one will hear your pleas to god for mercy; moreover, no one will ever “believe” you over any godly priest.

  14. Were Samuel Johnson alive today, i have no doubt his famous quip would be that “diplomatic immunity, rather than patriotism, is truly the last refuge of scoundrels.”

  15. Mespo,

    Isn’t it the same in this case? Diplomatic immunity is just the tool being used to protect the country in question, all in the name of patriotism.

  16. Mespo,

    It’s only confusing because we’re so used to thinking of the Catholic Church as a church with it’s headquarters in The Vatican, instead of The Vatican as a State whose head also happens to be the head of The Church.

  17. Former Federal LEO

    I suggest that we cut to the chase and place the real culprit, “God”, on trial—in absentia, of course, by *His* own choice of waiving due process under the 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments—because B-I-B-L-E scripture nowhere reveals that *HE*, the Lord, has diplomatic immunity.


    That is one very cool idea!

  18. It seems that JP the Second’s “fast track” to sainthood as hit a snag. One of the requirements for sainthood is that the proposed saint must perform a miracle. Someone in Poland who had an “incurable” disease claimed that she was “cured” after praying to Pope JP II. Now it turns out that she was misdiagnosed and her disease wasn’t uncurable after all, so they’re still one miracle short. For those of you who are interested, the fastest track to sainthood is to be martyred for Christ. Not just being killed, but dying for your faith. No miracle needed.

  19. You mean the Adams Family. Yes, he does have those sunken eyes, but can he illuminate a light bulb by sticking it in his mouth?

  20. Not everyone agrees…

    “In any event, head of state immunity provides no protection in the International Criminal Court (hence its current indictment of President Bashir). The ICC statute defines a crime against humanity to include rape and sexual slavery and other similarly inhumane acts causing serious harm to mental or physical health committed against civilians on a widespread or systematic scale if condoned or tolerated by a government or a de facto authority. The U.N. Appeal Court in Sierra Leone has held that recruitment of children as soldiers or sex slaves for an army amounts to a crime against humanity.

    If acts of sexual abuse by priests are not isolated or sporadic events but part of a wide practice both known to and unpunished by their de facto authority—i.e. the Catholic Church—then under the command responsibility principle of international law (laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court) the commander can be held criminally liable. He falls within the temporal jurisdiction of the ICC so long as that abusive practice and the policy to tolerate it continued after July 2002, when the court was established.”

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