The Dim-Post

April 12, 2010

Never interrupt your enemy . . .

Filed under: religion — danylmc @ 1:47 pm

While he is making a mistake:

British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins has backed a measure which could see Pope Benedict arrested to face questions over the Catholic church’s child abuse scandal, when he visits Britain later this year.

Dawkins, a scientist and outspoken critic of religion, has backed a move to ask human rights lawyers to examine whether charges could be brought against the pope.

Dawkins is supporting English journalist Christopher Hitchens, who has commissioned lawyers Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope.

On his website Dawkins stressed that he “did NOT say ‘I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI’ or anything so personally grandiloquent,” but that he did support Hitchen’s initiative to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s proposed visit to Britain.

“I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity,” he said on his site.

The four-day trip, from September 16 to 19, will be the first papal visit since Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit in 1982 and is the first official papal visit to Britain.

A real atheist would send the Pope some flowers: he’s done more to discredit organised religion than Dawkins ever could.

Seriously though, the Church insists that they’re being demonised by the forces of secularism and modernism. When you’ve been revealed as an accessory in the rape of two young boys it’s not much of a defence, but stunts like this involving people like Dawkins do make it look like Ratzinger is ‘under attack’ and give him some cover while he plays the victim.

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23 Comments »

  1. Ratzinger was personally involved in the coverup of the sexual abuse of young children. Dawkins thinks he should be arrested.

    Doesn’t really sound like a ‘stunt’ to me.

    Comment by derp de derp — April 12, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  2. “the Church insists that they’re being demonised by the forces of secularism and modernism. ”

    don’t forget the Jews, they deserve credit too –

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/11/catholic-bishop-blames-jews

    Comment by Neil — April 12, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

  3. It’s hard to imagine how a UK court could have jurisdiction in such a case.

    Comment by danylmc — April 12, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

  4. Think the claim Danyl is “crimes against humanity” (from what I read on The Guardian) which are generally filed with the international criminal court. The proceedings I would guess then from the british line (which have not been launched, and doubt they will) would just be the arrest warrant as it is a signatory to the ICC.

    However if you consider the people who normally get charged with such a crime it does feel more like a stunt, and doubt the standard of proof etc would be met for the crime.

    You would think more credience could be layed where the crime happened, in the US, as an accessory or something. Civil case, bet it is already in the works.

    Comment by Jeff R — April 12, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

  5. The Pope’s doing plenty to bring the Church down on his own, yes. But how much more if he were arrested? I guess this is how goes the thinking.

    Notwithstanding the fact that it’d cause riots and bloodshed throughout Southern Europe and South America and would probably get chucked out anyhow. It’s about as daft as the notion of arresting Tony Blair.

    L

    Comment by Lew — April 12, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

  6. Actually, it seems this article was taken out of context. See here

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/04/you_cant_trust_a_murdoch_paper.php

    Looks like he never said such a thing.

    Comment by kelsey — April 12, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

  7. It’s hard to imagine how a UK court could have jurisdiction in such a case.

    In a criminal case? Yeah problems.

    Dawkins et. al. seem to think this is genocide or a crime against humanity.

    They’re also dangerously close to abandoning what opposition I assume they have against arbitrary exercises of state power and false imprisonment, etc.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 12, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

  8. Hmmm. The Rome Statute of the ICC says that crimes against humanity includes “rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity”, but only “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”. The Explanatory Memorandum to same says that

    [Crimes against humanity] are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. However, murder, extermination, torture, rape, political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.

    There was definitely rape, and the Vatican definitely knew about it and tolerated it. Seems the test that needs to be passed is whether the abuses were “widespread or systematic”. I must confess to not being familiar enough with either the allegations themselves or international law to be able to make that judgement, but on the face of it it doesn’t sound like it’s outside the realm of possibility.

    Comment by derp de derp — April 12, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  9. In a criminal case? Yeah problems.

    Dawkins et. al. seem to think this is genocide or a crime against humanity.

    They’re also dangerously close to abandoning what opposition I assume they have against arbitrary exercises of state power and false imprisonment, etc.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler

    Although this may be a binary interpretation of what you just said, do you really think that people who aided and abetted a child molester in avoidance of justice should escape prosecution? Because that’s what it sounds like. I don’t think you really understand the complete and utter powerlessness of some of the victims of these crimes, or exactly how far it went. We’ve already heard testimony from victims of the Catholic Church in Ireland, we’ve heard how they covered up the same kinds of goings on in Germany, we know how much children in New Zealand and Australia suffered under the guardianship of Catholics and the latest is that Joseph Ratzinger himself – God’s representative on Earth – was directly involved in covering up the systematic abuse of over 200 deaf children by a single priest.

    No other worldwide organisation can lay claim to anything like the crimes of which the Catholic Church has been accused – and if they did, they’d be finished.

    Really, how far does the church need to go in order to convince you that this is an entirely justified response to utterly reprehensible behaviour on the part of the Church? What, would you want video evidence? The idea that this kind of prosecution or arrest on an ICC warrant would be anything like “arbitrary exercises of state power and false imprisonment” is completely and utterly naive and devoid of any references to what’s actually gone on. You really should be ashamed of yourself, and do some reading before you dare throw out another atrocious slew of opposition for the sake of it.

    Comment by dontsurf — April 12, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  10. “They’re also dangerously close to abandoning what opposition I assume they have against arbitrary exercises of state power and false imprisonment, etc.”

    Indeed. It doesn’t say much for their libertarian principles.

    JC

    Comment by JC — April 12, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  11. Neither Dawkins nor Hitchens are libertarian. I suspect Hitchens especially would take serious offence at being associated with those kooks.

    Have they asked the ICC to issue an arrest warrant? I agree with dontsurf that if the proper procedure is followed there is no question of this being arbitrary or an abuse of power. I also agree it’s a silly stunt.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — April 12, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  12. “Neither Dawkins nor Hitchens are libertarian. I suspect Hitchens especially would take serious offence at being associated with those kooks.”

    Oh come now..

    Libertarians are just socialists on vacation.

    Both are leftists at heart who chafe under the constraints of expressing solidarity with manure spreaders, and find solace in outrageous stuff like supporting and dining with Holocaust deniers or pummeling religion. That both advocate state power to curtail religious free speech is a dead giveaway.

    JC

    Comment by JC — April 12, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

  13. I’m quite surprised is supporting this, as it really does lend weight to Catholic Church’s false claims of victimisation. It also seems to go against his response to the question should the Pope resign…” No. As the College of Cardinals must have recognized when they elected him, he is perfectly – ideally – qualified to lead the Roman Catholic Church. A leering old villain in a frock, who spent decades conspiring behind closed doors for the position he now holds; a man who believes he is infallible and acts the part; a man whose preaching of scientific falsehood is responsible for the deaths of countless AIDS victims in Africa; 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 to silence: in short, exactly the right man for the job

    Comment by Richard — April 12, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  14. Dontsurf: Although this may be a binary interpretation of what you just said, do you really think that people who aided and abetted a child molester in avoidance of justice should escape prosecution? Because that’s what it sounds like. I don’t think you really understand the complete and utter powerlessness of some of the victims of these crimes, or exactly how far it went.

    No.

    People who committed the crime of aiding child molestation (I don’t believe abetting has ever been alleged) should be prosecuted if sufficient evidence of guilt to establish a prima facie case based on proper admissible evidence can be presented.

    But the idea that we should use state powers of arrest and imprisonment to score what are essentially political points in a fight against religion, and that people should be arrested when there is no prospect of imminent charge, let alone imminent trial on criminal charges is abhorrent.

    If Dawkins truly believes that Joseph Ratzinger has committed a crime that would be triable in English Courts, he shouldn’t be arranging for an arrest, he should be arranging for a criminal investigation, or starting one himself with the view of commencing a private prosecution.

    What are the actual offences with which Ratzinger is to be charged (within 24-48 hours of being arrested)? Who are the victims, and the witnesses you intend to call; what evidence will you call to show that Ratzinger was directly involved in the commission of the crimes; is this evidence admissible; how does this evidence establish that a crime against English law has been committed by Ratzinger personally? Etc.

    When Dawkins et. al. have enough answers to these questions to establish a prima facie case for guilt by Ratzinger of a crime triable in England (or a crime triable somewhere else, where charges have been laid and extradition is sought), then they can ask for an arrest warrant (adding additional charges, and further evidence later if they wish). But until then, they’re arguing for a police state.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 12, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  15. Did someone mention arresting Tony Blair?

    Now there is a thought.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — April 12, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

  16. Dan Brown really was on to something then.

    Comment by onebadhobbit — April 12, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

  17. Did someone mention arresting Tony Blair?

    Now there is a thought.

    To do what?

    England, like New Zealand, allows the commencement of private prosecutions; if someone was really serious, they’d start one. Short of this, or the Crown starting one, there’s no basis to arrest him outside the furtherance of the police state.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 13, 2010 @ 7:59 am

  18. I’m an atheist, not even an ex-Catholic, and not a fan of the RC Church at all, but I do study religion from an academic point of view, and have to say I think the Pope is getting targetted unfairly here.None of the evidence when you go back to it shows him as an accessory. In the early days he was working within accepted parameters of the RC Church at the time, and wider society didn’t really care too much about child abuse back then either.Later he actually did lead the push to try and get rid of kiddy-fiddlers and others when he was cardinal. I loathe his politics, his stance on sexuality, his stance on HIV, nearly everything he stands for, but for me this is more a smear campaign than anything, a moral panic. not based in fact.

    The Pope and others really do see this as a manifestation of Satan and his trying to destroy God’s true church, and their world view of course leads them to blame humanism and secularism – those two forces have done them the most damage.

    Comment by Michael Stevens — April 13, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  19. and wider society didn’t really care too much about child abuse back then either

    This is a very good point worth keeping in mind. I have a horrible feeling that child abuse like this was occurring with the same frequency in most other organisations with the same exposure to children, catholic/christian or not.

    Comment by Phil — April 13, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  20. I’m sure people in those days would have disapproved of child sexual abuse as much as people today do.

    It’s true that there was less disapproval of physical abuse of children, and less consciousness of sexual abuse of children, and it may well have been going on as much in othewr organisations as in the church, but I suspect that if you asked it as a hypothetical ‘if a man did this to a child, what would you think of that?’, you would have found people to be every bit as disapproving of it then as they are today.

    Comment by kahikatea — April 13, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  21. Michael, does being declared infallible and having ultimate worldly authority over the Church and all its actions (and inactions), with the consequent responsibility that brings, not make His Holiness fair game — and in fact, the only logical personage to target for failings in the Church culture?

    L

    Comment by Lew — April 13, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  22. Lew, he’s only infallible when pronouncing on matters of doctrine – no other time.The internal logic of the RC Church is different from the one most of us use, and it’s not one I accept or condone, but it is a strong force in all this.

    An aspect of this issue that interests me is the largely unacknowledged and hidden issue of sexual abuse in Islamic Madrassas, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s hidden away, but real. And again you have a group of people vested with divine authority in control of groups of adolescent boys, but these men will be married for the most part. But the strength of religious authority and custom means it is very rarely brought out into the daylight.

    Comment by Michael Stevens — April 13, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  23. VATICAN CITY—Calling the behaviour shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring the widespread paedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/pope-vows-to-get-church-pedophilia-down-to-accepta,17201/

    Comment by andy (the other one) — April 13, 2010 @ 3:45 pm


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