Why is the government protecting the Pope from arrest?


11:30 am - July 27th 2010

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contribution by A.W.

The Pope’s proposed visit to the UK in September is costing the UK taxpayers as much as £12m for the four-day tour (not including the policing and security costs). How a man who claims to be the right-hand man of God could possibly need security is beyond me.

Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC were planning to bring a private prosecution in relation to the Pope’s alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

However, it seems the UK Government didn’t want the embarrassment of having the Pope arrested on our shores, so the new Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has moved to prevent the possibility of an arrest warrant being issued against the Pope during his state visit in September.

[Sky News] understands that Whitehall officials have been “seriously concerned” that campaigners would use international criminal rules to try to detain the Pontiff while he is in the UK…

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has proposed changes to the rules on universal jurisdiction, a law that allows individuals to be prosecuted in the UK for serious offences such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture even if they were carried out abroad.

For those who consider the arrest of the Pope on these grounds as impossible, earlier this month the US Supreme Court issued a decision that the Vatican does not have legal immunity in a claim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest.

In October 1999 Peter Tatchell and three members of the gay rights group OutRage! attempted a citizen’s arrest of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The attempt failed and three of the four were charged with public order offences, however three months later the charges were dropped.

An international arrest warrant was successfully used in 1998 against Augusto Pinochet, and an arrest warrant was issued in March last year for Omar al-Bashir, (the current President of Sudan). Bashir was due to attend an African Union summit in Uganda this week but is unable to due to the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments.

The arrest of the Pope is morally the right thing to do, as this man is responsible for the systemic covering up of a worldwide network of child rape. But in summary, UK law is being changed so that a delusional, homophobic man who shelters rapists and sadists is not held to account when he visits the UK.

Not really the actions of the “most liberal parliament in a generation” deputy prime minister Nick Clegg claimed it would be in a Guardian interview earlier this month.

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Reader comments


It would presumably still be possible to seek a prosecution in Belgium and use that to demand an arrest/extradition while he is in the UK.

“The arrest of the Pope is morally the right thing to do, as this man is responsible for the systemic covering up of a worldwide network of child rape.”

The problem is that this isn’t true and Britain will cease to function in international relations if all it takes to arrest a head of state is a bunch of sectarians who believe newspaper stories.

3. the a&e charge nurse

[2] ‘The problem is that this isn’t true’ – then the Rat has nothing to fear in a court of law does he?

4. Luis Enrique

Much as I like the idea, Adam are you really writing this with a straight face, actually asking why the govt doesn’t allow the Pope to be arrested?

it seems the UK Government didn’t want the embarrassment of having the Pope arrested on our shores

British understatement at its best there. Really, try to apply some realistic thinking to the question of what the actual repercussions of arresting the Pope would be.

Here’s something to get you started:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_by_country

5. the a&e charge nurse

[4] “Really, try to apply some realistic thinking to the question of what the actual repercussions of arresting the Pope would be” – admittedly not quite as bad as the repercussions associated with institutional denial of child abuse?

One would have thought the Pontiff would be breaking his neck in order to clear the stink that has enveloped him as a result of these allegations?

Any other Head of State would resign, or be forced to resign. The Pope, by the Vatican’s own rules’n’regs, can’t jump or be pushed. The only way to remove him is thus arrest; it seems very odd that the gov should be putting this much energy into protecting him from the law.
Private Eye has a nice number-crunching this week, the Queen costs taxpayers £22,000 a day (ie around £8million a year) in protection; the Pope is costing taxpayers £12million for less than a week!
Did someone say recession?

Well a private citizen should be allowed to bring whatever private action they wish. The Pope is also a head of state, but a state with now accountability or democratic process.

And you are right when you say what he has done.

However the arresting of a head of state sets a dangerous predcedent. In effect, no matter the charge, privavte individuals could bring actions against every head of state and they would spend most of their term in court defending themselves from any number of spurious claims.

A braver and bolder move would be the arrest and charge of every head of the catholic faith in every country within which they reside, then call the Pope as a witness.

“then the Rat has nothing to fear in a court of law does he?”

I don’t think anyone who is not in the grip of severe sectarian hatred thinks the Pope has anything to fear from a court of law in terms of being found guilty of anything.

But I can’t imagine being arrested is high on anybody’s list of priorities though, is it?

9. Luis Enrique

admittedly not quite as bad as the repercussions associated with institutional denial of child abuse?

I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m talking about: reasons why the govt won’t allow the Pope to be arrested when he visits. The reason I am pointing to is “diplomatic shit storm like you wouldn’t believe”. There may be others. Note that pointing to reasons is not the same as justifying or defending those reasons.

Yes, one would have thought the Pope would be trying to extricate the Catholic Church from this stink.

(oh, and on security costs, during a recession. Surely you’re not suggesting putting security staff on the dole during a recession? I thought only Tories liked cuts. I’ll interpret you as meaning that money could be spent on not firing civil servants etc.)

Adam, you’re way out of the park with this one mate.

You’re going to get a lot of people say, like Luis Enrique above, I like the idea (because deep down I’m a rebel) but it’s just plain stupid to think the arrest of the Pope was going to be plausible.

When the Pope was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger there was a priest who had previously forced an 8 year old to perform oral sex on him, among other acts beforehand. Ratzinger allowed that man, while he was being put through therapy for his crimes, to continue with pastoral roles, but has since apologised.

Other cover ups by the Pope himself will be based on his word against any others. The claim that the Pope directly covered up paedophiles cannot be substantiated anymore than his claim that he did not – which does no good for the “Ditchkins” (that’s Dawkins and Hitchens) case.

A notable case for arresting the Poep is by Allison Kilkenny [http://trueslant.com/allisonkilkenny/2010/04/11/the-case-for-arresting-the-pope/] which just amounts to: The Pope probably knew, after all he is the Pope, why wouldn’t he know. That might get you through the door in the High Court (perhaps if you say you want to use their bathroom) but further than this, no chance.

The cynic in me might like point out that Hitchens and Dawkins like a good anti-religious PR frenzy. I rather like both of them much of the time, but this is a bit childish.

And, therefore, so is this comment by Adam – back to the drawing board with yer.

11. the a&e charge nurse

[8] “I don’t think anyone who is not in the grip of severe sectarian hatred thinks the Pope has anything to fear from a court of law in terms of being found guilty of anything” – you call it ‘sectarian hatred’ I call it children denied justice following the systematic cover up of abuse, a cover up allegedly sanctioned by the highest tier of the catholic church.

As I say these matters could easily be addressed if those accused took to the stand and gave an honest account of their actions rather than hiding behind high office?

I should just add Ratzinger was unaware that the man going through therapy was a peadophile – so the story goes, I cannot substantiate either way

13. the a&e charge nurse

[9] “I’m talking about: reasons why the govt won’t allow the Pope to be arrested when he visits. The reason I am pointing to is “diplomatic shit storm like you wouldn’t believe” – yes, I agree, fear of upsetting the Pope and his crew, outweighs the right to justice for victims of abuse.

How a man who claims to be the right-hand man of God could possibly need security is beyond me.

Um, because previous popes, including both of the current Pope’s two predecessors, have been variously stabbed, shot and poisoned perhaps? Or is the suggestion that priests are invulnerable? In which case I suggest you read up on basic theology.

Why is the government protecting the Pope from arrest?

Because, obviously, of the enormous political embarassment of having a friendly Head of State arrested on a state visit – especially when such an arrest was done as a political stunt and not as part of a serious legal prosecution. Which is what the DoJ has said:

At the moment anyone can apply to the courts for an arrest warrant. That is a right that the Government wants to protect. However, because the evidence necessary to issue an arrest warrant may be far less than would be needed for a prosecution, the system is open to possible abuse by people trying to obtain arrest warrants for grave crimes on the basis of flimsy evidence to make a political statement or to cause embarrassment

15. oldandrew

“Ratzinger allowed that man, while he was being put through therapy for his crimes, to continue with pastoral roles, but has since apologised.”

I don’t think anyone has even got anything as strong as that against the Pope. If it’s the Hullerman case then the decision to allow Hullerman to resume his pastoral duties was made by someone else who has since claimed full responsibility for the decision.

As I say these matters could easily be addressed if those accused took to the stand and gave an honest account of their actions rather than hiding behind high office?

Um, anyone accused of a crime should therefore stand trial to prove that they’re innocent? That’s a pretty complete reversal of the basic tenets of English criminal law you’ve just come up with.

Meh, on second thoughts if the CPS can’t prosecute a copper who is caught on film causing the death of an innocent bystander they’re hardly gonna prosecute the Pope.

Oh and @9

the point isn’t the secuirty costs per se but that they are ridiculously high. £3,000,000 a day?? It’s frankly bonkers.

19. oldandrew

“As I say these matters could easily be addressed if those accused took to the stand and gave an honest account of their actions”

Isn’t that how McCarthyism worked?

20. Shatterface

‘The Pope’s proposed visit to the UK in September is costing the UK taxpayers as much as £12m for the four-day tour (not including the policing and security…’

I’ve no time for the Pope or any other religious leader but arguments about the *cost* of protecting people are irrelevant. I remember this kind of argument being trotted out about the police’s protection of Salman Rushdie. The cost is justified on the basis of how much resources you *need* to protect someone from harm, not how much that person is *worthy* of protection.

Since there isn’t actually a god out there then his protection is down to the police, just as it would be if this were any other head of state.

21. the a&e charge nurse

[16] “Um, anyone accused of a crime should therefore stand trial to prove that they’re innocent?”

[19] “Isn’t that how McCarthyism worked?”

Oh, the rationalisations are coming thick and fast now – I’m sure those regularly abused by catholic priests must have come up against similar barriers?

My expectations of the catholic church are so low that I expect that they will employ al available means to suppress their despicable crimes.

The prestige associated with papal office is one such device.

Some might think there is NO legal case to answer, or if questions are asked this akin to McCarthyism – but there is certainly a moral questions and the Rat and his cowardly crew have certainly been found wanting on this score?

22. Luis Enrique

fear of upsetting the Pope and his crew …

by “his crew” do you mean the 1.2bn Catholics and representative governments thereof?

“I’ve no time for the Pope or any other religious leader but arguments about the *cost* of protecting people are irrelevant”

Hang on a second, only the other day the trolls on here where saying that people should pay for their right to demonstrate, because it was costing the state too much.

Now we have a far right wing, religious megalomaniac, and former brownshirt, and the trolls think the state should pay.

Lesson.. Trolls like protecting right wing fascists.

24. the a&e charge nurse

[22] I was thinking more of those bishops who were alerted to accusations of child abuse but simply moved the offender on to another patch ………… without warning the new parish that more children were likely suffer exactly the same fate.

25. James from Durham

It would be nice to see “His holiness” arrested. He is the head of an organisation which deliberately suppressed the complaints of the young victims of its employees. However, maybe he should consider that, according to his beliefs, there is another court and another Judge, who said some pretty unambivalent things about those who mess with children. Unlike the Roman church, he wasn’t too excited about stoning adulterers and he had nothing to say about homosexuality, but children he was serious about.

Sad to say it won’t happen until some of the Roman Catholics out there start asking why their trust in their leaders has been so grossly abused.

26. Richard W

Apparently they are charging the Scottish customers 20 quid and trousering the takings. The only ones not making any money seems to be the British taxpayer.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-10761200

“The Pope’s proposed visit to the UK in September is costing the UK taxpayers as much as £12m for the four-day tour ”

Henry V111 and Elizabeth 1 start revolving at full speed in their graves.

Austerity Britain, Hell, no way………. says Clarke.

28. the a&e charge nurse

For those interested I would strongly recommend Amy Berg’s film, “Deliver us from evil”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ed9OgLJJ-c&feature=related

29. James from Durham

We have to bear in mind that any catholics posting on here are probably in the grip of major cognitive dissonance. The reality of priests abusing kids and bishops focussing on PR and turning a blind eye must be difficult to square with the theological concept of “the body of christ”, apostolic succession etc. Peter’s three denials of Christ are small potatoes compared to the amount of denial presumably going on here.

Has it occurred to anyone that the Rev Ian Paisley’s condemnations of the popes (“Whore of Babylon” etc) actually understated how bad things were!

30. WhatNext?!

@29
You, and others on this thread, may be under-estimating how widespread this sort of thing used to be. It wasn’t just Catholic priests, and nor was it just religious organisations.
People may also be surprised at just how much was consensual.

Oh joy of joys, a paedoapologist… honestly, the quality of trolls round these parts used to be much less stupid.
“Consensual” abuse, WhatNext? Really?

32. the a&e charge nurse

[31] yes, a deeply offensive suggestion made by 29.

Surely we should be focussing on the Vatican’s unspoken policy that cases of child abuse should be hushed up;
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/aug/17/religion.childprotection

And that that Ratzinger was complicit with it;
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23369148-pope-led-cover-up-of-child-abuse-by-priests.do

33. the a&e charge nurse

[32] Oops should say [30] – apologies to [29]

34. oldandrew

“We have to bear in mind that any catholics posting on here are probably in the grip of major cognitive dissonance.”

So just to check, in a series of comments full of insults, it is claimed a Catholic leader should be taken to court even with no evidence against him, and Catholics should be considered mentally disordered if they object?

Do you not get where this sort of thinking about a religious minority leads?

The irony is that this is on a site with “liberal” in the title.

35. oldandrew

31,

So just to check the principle here, if we find a newspaper article accusing people of things, they should be arrested and made to justify themselves in court?

@34

If the Pope was just some guy living at the end of the street he would be investigated to the full extent of the law. He has been implicated in the cover -up of the worst forms of child sexual abuse many, many times over and over again – Cardinal Ratzinger’s name crops up all over the place. At the very least, there are answers to be given.
I repeat: if this was someone living at the end of your street he would be investigated.

Nothing to do with being Catholic. Everything to do with being corrupt.

37. oldandrew

“Some might think there is NO legal case to answer, or if questions are asked this akin to McCarthyism – but there is certainly a moral questions and the Rat and his cowardly crew have certainly been found wanting on this score?”

Can I just check, are you now arguing that he (and other unspecified individuals) be arrested on *moral*, rather than legal grounds?

38. oldandrew

“He has been implicated in the cover -up of the worst forms of child sexual abuse many, many times over and over again”

The point is that he hasn’t.

There is not an actual case against him, unless you hold to the principle of collective guilt, whereby the crimes of other Catholics committed without his knowledge or agreement can be held against him. This principle, as a way of dealing with religious groups, does not have a good history.

39. WhatNext?!

I’m not being an apologist, I’m just astounded by how widespread this sort of thing was, and how hidden it remained. It goes to show how much power these organisations had, and how unaware people were. Disbelief was normal because it was simply unbelievable (you have to remember how relatively strait-laced society was 30 years ago). This isn’t a “deeply offensive suggestion”, it’s a simple statement of fact. You have to assume that it’s less widespread now, if only because secrecy on this scale is no longer possible.
As for my comment about consensual, I’m again simply astounded by the how much was going on in choirs, schools, scouts and the like.
And, no, I have no time at all for the Catholic church ….

@38

Oh really.
The other part of your comment accusing those who worry that the Pope has covered up child sexual abuse of being anti-Catholic is frankly bullshit. Half my family are fully-paid up Catholics and it’s disconserting for them as the Pope is supposed to be infallible, yet there is much evidence to suggest this isn’t so. And if anyone’s picking on religious groups then you need look no further than the Catholic Church (see the host desecration hysteria for example).

@39

Well it being widespread (there was a case in the US of a Priest abusing 200 deaf children) doesn’t make it consensual. I apologise if I misinterpreted what you said, I just think you should use more careful language as it’s suspiciously close to the old ‘blame the victim’ mentality that still pervades certain spheres.

@38 oldandrew

Altho I haven’t been following this issue that closely, I’m sure I remember hearing in recent coverage on the radio and in print that the current Pope, whilst still a Cardinal, was at least complicit in decisions which allowed known child abusers to avoid punishment.

According to The Independent of 28th June 2010, he was present at a meeting of Cardinals in 2001 which approved the sending of a letter by Cardinal Hoyos to the Bishop of Bayeaux which congratulated the Bishop on going to jail rather than give the French authorities information about a priest who had raped a minor. (“I congratulate you for not turning in a priest to the civil administration,” he wrote. “I am delighted to have a colleague … who … has preferred prison to turning in his son-priest.” )

A number of other examples turn up in even a cursory on-line search.

It seems hard to maintain that then Cardinal Ratzinger had NO knowledge of such matters. Whether this amounts to a legal case to answer is perhaps debateable, whether he can claim to be totally unaware appears less so. If he WAS aware, and did not do his utmost to rectify such situations, his moral responsibility ought to give the church, and its adherents, serious cause for concern.

43. Shatterface

‘Hang on a second, only the other day the trolls on here where saying that people should pay for their right to demonstrate, because it was costing the state too much.’

I’ve never made any such argument.

Maybe you should address your accusations of right-wing trolling against people who are right-wing trolls instead of making slurs based on the random associations thrown up by your misfiring brain.

And make up your mind: are the police there to provide protection irrespective of ability to pay – in which case both protesters and the Pope get protection – or should only those able to afford protection (in this case, the Pope) get it?

‘Lesson.. Trolls like protecting right wing fascists.’

You are an idiot.

44. Shatterface

‘Henry V111 and Elizabeth 1 start revolving at full speed in their graves.’

Again, not defending the Pope, you’re holding *Henry III* up as a moral exemplor? A warrior king who murdered some of his own wives?

45. the a&e charge nurse

[42] “It seems hard to maintain that then Cardinal Ratzinger had NO knowledge of such matters. Whether this amounts to a legal case to answer is perhaps debatable” – the evidence suggests he did know?

The catholic church has a corporate responsibility to the thousands who were abused, surely?
And as the CEO Ratzingers position is untenable, not least because it appears he was party to the cover up – in other words he sided with the institution rather than the victims of sexual abuse.

The best thing is to be honest, acknowledge the wrong, and attempt to redress the harm caused – if the Vatican can not undertake this kind of reparation voluntarily, then it is hardly surprising one or two would like to bring them to book via the courts?

46. oldandrew

“Oh really.”

Yes, really. There are plenty of media accusations, and people do have a tendency to assume that if the accusations appear on the BBC, Guardian or New York Times (even if they are blatantly based on nothing more than statements by American lawyers hoping to cash in on class action suits against the Catholic Church) they are somehow more substantial than when equally inaccurate stories, aimed at different religious groups, appear in the Daily Mail or Express.

But all the stories of accusations against the Pope personally have faded into insignificance once they were properly scrutinised. The one you just linked to pretty much standard. It is based on the idea that the CDF was the body which dealt with sexual abuse by priests in the eighties. It didn’t have that responsibility until 2001. Prior to that the only role it played was that in cases where the confessional was used in abuse it could undertake a long and bureaucratic process of “laiticisation”: declaring the priest’s ordination to be revoked.

Attempts to blame the present Pope for child abuse mainly seem to follow the pattern of suggesting: that the responsibility of the CDF for confessional misuse was really responsibility for child abuse; that responsibility for laiticisation was responsibility for all action taken against abusive priests; that any confidentiality involved in the CDF’s proceedings was an attempt to keep the existence of abuse secret; that the length of time involved in laitisation proves deliberate unwillingness to act, and that as the former head of the CDF the Pope can be personally blamed for any wrong action taken at the time even in the absence of evidence of direct involvement. All of which conveniently ignores the role the Pope played in changing these procedures so they could address more serious issues, and address them more effectively.

Now none of these accusations hold up under scrutiny for more than a few minutes, which is why most of this discussion takes the form of sectarian and personal abuse, combined with the self-righteous suggestion that a concern for these facts must indicate a lack of concern for the victims of clerical child abuse and a constant blurring of the issues of legal cases relating to child abuse, moral disapproval of child abuse, and moral disapproval of anything else related to the Catholic Church.

Still I’m sure that as somebody who has familiarised themself with the details of the accusations and the legal processes involved, I can be dismissed as an apologist. After all, we just know that these sorts of people must be guilty don’t we? We don’t like them and it’s in the papers, so it must be true.

47. the a&e charge nurse

[46] so is it your position that thousands of children were abused by priests yet the hierarchy were oblivious to it – if this is the case then they are STILL guilty by the act of omission (since senior clergy are directly responsible for training and pastoral supervision of their priests).

From testimony I have heard senior church figures failed to recognise the gravity of accusations that were being made – we can only speculate about their motivies for this apparent intransigence.

The greatest irony is the Pope bollocked the Irish bishops for their role in this scandal yet rather hypocritically played down his own complicity;
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7069826.ece

@46

So seeing as you’re so knowledgable, why did Father Lawrence Murphy (who sexually abused 200 deaf children) die without a blemish on his record, when Ratzinger knew all about it? Why was Reverand Peter Hullermann (who abused children on Ratzinger’s watch and was referred to a shrink by the latter for paedophilia in 1980) stay with the Church for two decades after? Why did Ratzinger resist the defrocking of convicted paedophile Stephen Kiesle for so long, claiming the “good of the universal church” needed to be considered? What the hell was to consider?

@46

Your response is tendentious. I have no particular axe to grind, but like a&e charge nurse, I find it hard not to be convinced that the hierarchy of the Catholic church must shoulder responsibility for the abuse it knew was going on and it’s wholly inadequate response since.

You seem quick to paint any criticism of the church or your position as sectarian or personal abuse.. but you do seem rather dismissive of the evidence against the church as a whole, and the Pope in particular.

As you have “familiarized” yourself on this, perhaps you can refute the rather detailed evidence that then Cardinal Ratzinger both knew of such behaviour going on, and participated in covering it up (as in the letter I referred to above), or for example in his instructions (in an updating of the 1962 Crimen Sollicitationis only 5 years ago which was to be kept secret) that all such cases be referred directly to Rome which would have exclusive competence, rather than dealt with in the country concerned.

I thought troll was spelt s-a-l-l-y

@40

A couple of points.

Firstly, most of the noise about this issue that I’ve seen on the internet is coming from people with a history of anti-Catholicism. Which makes it easy to jump to conclusions about the motives behind such statements.

Secondly, the Pope’s only supposed to be infallible when making Ex Cathedra statements. So either your family are misunderstanding official RC doctrine, or they have no reason to be disconcerted.

52. oldandrew

“According to The Independent of 28th June 2010, he was present at a meeting of Cardinals in 2001 which approved the sending of a letter by Cardinal Hoyos to the Bishop of Bayeaux which congratulated the Bishop on going to jail rather than give the French authorities information about a priest who had raped a minor.”

You are misquoting the Independent, which used the phrase “was an outcome of” to paraphrase something said by Hoyos in a radio interview.

Fair enough, this would be incriminating if Hoyos said it and it was true, but we’ve had a month now and if the story was reliable I think we’d have found out what Hoyos actually said by now. Instead the story has vanished, and all we have is the original paraphrase of an allegation that nobody seems to have even bothered following up.

53. oldandrew

“if this is the case then they are STILL guilty by the act of omission (since senior clergy are directly responsible for training and pastoral supervision of their priests)”

Nobody is going to say the church bears no responsibility for failing to deal with the problem.

However, the original article suggested the Pope should be arrested, not criticised.

Do you not get why it is slightly scary when people seem unable to distinguish between the two?

54. oldandrew

48,

I dealt with the points you are making in the very post you are replying to.

I suggest you read before replying next time.

55. oldandrew

49,

I have dealt with your accusations in the post you are replying to, too.

56. the a&e charge nurse

[53] “Do you not get why it is slightly scary when people seem unable to distinguish between the two” – arrest MAY be indicated if there is sufficient complicity in the commissioning of a crime?

Finding out exactly who did what, and when, is not a straightforward issue since there are those who allege senior church figures, including Ratzinger, at the very least obfuscated, and maybe even hid incriminating evidence from those who became increasingly concerned about the church’s willingness to keep it’s own house in order.

I doubt very much if the pontiff will ever be brought to account, but in other sphere’s the law was finally changed so that high ups are no longer immune from prosecution
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article2097907.ece

57. Chris Baldwin

OK, I’m pretty far left, atheist, secularist you name it, but arresting the Pope? Get real.

58. the a&e charge nurse

[57] “arresting the Pope? Get real” – have you adopted this position because the Pope is above the law, or because shielding predatory priests from justice (allegedly) is not a matter to trouble the courts with?

59. Shatterface

I think he should be arrested but that his name should not be released to preserve his anonymity.

A simple statement that ‘An 83 year old man is helping with enquiries’ should suffice.

60. Flowerpower

this man is responsible for the systemic covering up of a worldwide network of child rape.

Can anyone cite any evidence for this? Can you name one instance in which he “covered up” in the sense of prevented a crime being known to the proper authorities?

61. the a&e charge nurse

[60] there are several allegations spread across at least 3 countries;
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/vatican_ratzinger10.htm#Did%20The%20Pope%20Shield%20Pedophile%20Priest

They may be just that, allegations – but I think there is a sense that these claims have not been properly investigated and that is particular senior Vatican officials have been both judge and jury?

Once upon a time the word of an authority figure (like a priest) would almost always be given greater weight than that of a child making allegations of abuse, especially if that child belonged to an institution of one sort or another – perhaps it was this entrenched tendency to denial that led senior catholic figures to not fully appreciate the gravity (and extent) of the stories that were unfolding before their very eyes?

62. the a&e charge nurse

the fundamental irony is that Ratzinger is probably the person who has done most to ensure that the Catholic Church examines and deals with this issue. Still..the fear and loathing is good to behold.

@51

Sure. But you do expect a bit of integrity from your spiritual leader.

“They may be just that, allegations – but I think there is a sense that these claims have not been properly investigated and that is particular senior Vatican officials have been both judge and jury?”

The point is that there is nothing of substance to investigate.

You cannot bring international prosecutions in this country. There may (and that’s debatable) be a right to do so under international law, but there is not under domestic law.

In any case, a sitting head of state will always have immunity unless the state they belong to waves it.

Non-story.

67. Flowerpower

a&e charge nurse @ 61

I’m puzzled. In reply to my question whether you could offer a concrete example of Ratzinger having ‘covered up’ any paedo activity, you referred me to a link about Fr Lawrence Murphy. But Murphy’s case was reported to the Police in 1973 and was the subject of a series of inestigative articles in the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1974.

Ratzinger didn’t start his Vatican job until 1982, so the Murphy case was already in the public domain years before. Timeline here:

http://www.archmil.org/Resources/LawrenceMurphyChronology.htm

Surely a bit more rigour is required before accusing people of crimes and calling for their arrest?

68. James from Durham

Ok, so the pope will not be arrested and maybe there are good legal reasons why not. What is clear is that there is a very great deal of anger against the Roman Catholic church over this issue. Some of it may be unfair. Back in the dark ages of the 1970s, denial of child abuse was widespread, probably in all the churches and probably in secular organizations as well. I dread to imagine what may have gone on in Eastern European Communist youth organizations. The Roman church and its head are particularly attacked for three reasons.

1) They were a lot slower than other organizations in western europe to catch up with ideas of child protection.
2) Their hierarchical nature means that responsibility for crimes at a junior level can very easily be followed up the chain of command.
3) The Roman church has a record of being very judgemental of those it doesn’t like e.g. gays, women who are not virgins, women in complex circumstances. Now it comes to light that the same people going round judging everyone else have also been involved in covering up really heinous crimes. I don’t need to quote Christ’s own words on this sort of behaviour!

The current pope’s personal responsibility in individual cases can be argued over, no doubt, but it remains that he is the head of this hierarchy and it is natural that he should take the flak.

And please don’t imagine that the church is being persecuted for its faith here. It is rather its lack of faith for which it is condemned. Instead of taking a proper christian apppraoach of doing the right thing and trusting God to manage the outcome, they adopted a secular PR-centred approach that utterly denies the faith they are supposed to stand for. You don’t have to be a christian to be very angry about all this. And I don’t think any of the public utterances indicate that they have got it yet.

69. Flowerpower

@ 68 James from Durham

Refreshingly sensible. But one thing – the Catholic Church seems to have got its house in order about CP and not covering up between 10 and 20 years ago (possibly at Ratzinger’s prompting as some above suggest). So he shouldn’t be taking the flak in the sense of blame for stuff in the 70s. I’m not sure there’s anything left to do really now Nolan recs are supposedly in place, except keep apologizing.

“Their hierarchical nature means that responsibility for crimes at a junior level can very easily be followed up the chain of command.”

I think this is the key point, but in the opposite way to what you think. Protestant countries, even those that are now largely irreligious, have an idea of the Pope as some kind of powerful, foreign dictator plotting to conquer the world. Therefore, when a scandal occurs in the Catholic Church it is immediately declared that it must be the power of the Pope that is behind it, or at the very least refusing to act against it. You have correctly identified this phenomena. What you appear to be missing though is the fact that it is based on a prejudiced view of the Catholic Church. Local churches have considerable autonomy and responsibility; historically Vatican interference has been highly constrained. What accountability exists is usually indirect, bureaucratic and based on maintaining doctrine, rather than enforcing discipline according to a clear “chain of command”.

As I hope I’ve indicated in some of my other comments, we are dealing here with an inaccurate view of the Catholic Church, which is then used as the basis for attacking the Pope for failing to exercise powers he never had. Why else do you think we have the often heard Protestant myth that the Pope is personally considered to be infallible brought up in this discussion? If you actually have some idea of how the Catholic Church works then the allegations against the Pope just look sectarian and hysterical.

You cannot bring international prosecutions in this country. There may (and that’s debatable) be a right to do so under international law, but there is not under domestic law.

You wouldn’t have to – the UK has assumed universal jurisdiction for some crimes, meaning that it would be a domestic prosecution.

@70 oldandrew

You continue to dismiss what appear to be eminently reasonable doubts about the role of the Roman Catholic church heirarchy in general, and Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Clement in particular as sectarian and hysterical.

I can assure you that my concerns are neither, but your obfuscation merely serves to weaken the force of your arguments. I happen to think that the potential arrest is a distraction from the larger issue, which is holding the church, it’s leadership and certain individuals to account.

@52 you dismiss Hoyos story from “The Independent” lightly, but with little evidence. The sources quoted by The Independent say that the current Pope was actually present at the meeting which discussed the contents of the letter. Other sources quote Hoyos as saying that Pope John Paul II knew of and approved the letter being sent.

Unless you are maintaining that none of this is true, it would seem to me to demonstrate that both the current and previous Pope agreed with the decision of Bishop Pican’s decision not to name Father Rene Bissey as child rapist. Hoyos also claimed at a conference in Murcia that Pican refused to divulge the priest’s name as the information was given in confession, whereas at his trial Pican confirmed it was given in a private conversation, and not in confession.

There is ample evidence out there that the church has knowingly and consistantly refused to laicize priests who were known sex offenders. The Pope should do what is long overdue: be totally open about the instances where this has happened. Until he does so, the truth will never be known.

@66

Even if we assume that the Vatican is a state – something that Geoffrey Robertson wants to see challenged – the Pope could still be prosecuted. Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Or is it one rule for the darkies and another for whitey?

@ oldandrew

The link below makes interesting reading in relation to the Hoyos letter. The implication is rather clear; either Hoyos told John Paul II about the letter and gained his approval, or he is deliberately misleading people by claiming protection from a dead Pope who can no longer defend himself. Similarly, either Ratzinger was present at the council discussions which discussed the letter, or he wasn’t.

You say that the story has vanished because it was unreliable, and that after 1 month nothing further has come out. It seems more likely that the church is avoiding the issue and holing it will go away, and that Hoyos’ motivation for the recent disclosures is his feeling of having been used as the whipping boy, and being “part of the problem”.

http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/a01x_HoyosTells.html

Robertson is being deliberately provocative claiming that the Vatican is not a state. It manifestly is. It was created by treaty in 1926, and has been internationally recognised as such. Arguing that one state doesn’t have the power to create another is historically illiterate.

76. oldandrew

“you dismiss Hoyos story from “The Independent” lightly, but with little evidence”

Not at all. It’s not that I dismiss Hoyos’ story, it is that I can’t find it. All we have is a paraphrase of what he is meant to have said that appeared in the press a month ago and then disappeared. If anyone can find what he actually said then we can consider the claims. If nobody can find what he actually said, then it seems highly unlikely he said anything anywhere near as contentious as the Independent claims (which in turn goes nowhere near as far as the interpretation of the claims which appears here).

@75 TimJ

Altho I agree that the Vatican State IS a state, surely that comes about by dint of the fact it is internationally recognised as such? As the Kossovans have recently found out declaring your independence isn’t the whole story: I heard it reported on the BBC that the “threshold” for full recognition is 100 UN members, which has obvious implications in many of the world’s trouble spots.

Robertson may indeed be being deliberately provocative in this case, but there is some merit to the view that one state cannot simply “set up” another, pace the Japanese attempt to set up a puppet state in Manchuria in the 1930’s, and the various puppet states established by the Germans and Italians in Europe in the 30’s and 40’s.

@75

I’m not saying I agree with Robertson.

Sudan is a State. We [the “international community”] wish to prosecute its leader. That’s the point…

@76 oldandrew

It wouldn’t seem you have looked very far. There are numerous links on line, and quite a few discussion in the Catholic press. According to the link above “The Tablet” (which is hardly known for being anti Catholic!) reported on 22nd April that Hoyos stated in a radio interview to Colombia’s RCN that Ratzinger was present at the council meeting which approved the decision to send the congratulatory letter to Bishop Pican. I have been unable to confirm this first hand as yet.

It shouldn’t be difficult for the Catholic church or the Pope himself to set the record straight if this is untrue. His allegation that John Paul II specifically approved the letter may be harder to prove, absent any actual documentary evidence or other witnesses to the meeting at which Hoyos insists he was encouraged to send the letter and forward it widely inside the church.

You say @76 that “it seems highly unlikely he said anything anywhere near as contentious as the Independent claims”: on the contrary, there is ample evidence that he did so. If not, let him deny it.

You further say that: “…which in turn goes nowhere near as far as the interpretation of the claims which appears here” . But the interpretation is clear: either Hoyos is being misquoted, or he is deliberately trying to mislead people, or he is telling the truth. If it is proven to be the latter, what is your view as to the role of the current Pope and other Cardinals involved in approving the sentiments in the letter, and of it being sent?

In addition, do you agree with the attempts by the church to (it appears) hang Hoyos out to dry as “part of the problem”, and to paint Pope Clement as a “reformer” for assuming exclusive power in 2001 to the Doctrine of the Faith to investigate ANY abuse cases…and then to carry on the shameful policies of silence and cover up which had been in evidence in the national jurisdictions beforehand?

Information on Hoyos from “The Tablet”

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/14646

78 – sure. If we can get the International Criminal Court to issue a warrant for the Pope, then we could arrest him. In the absence of that…

Altho I agree that the Vatican State IS a state, surely that comes about by dint of the fact it is internationally recognised as such? As the Kossovans have recently found out declaring your independence isn’t the whole story: I heard it reported on the BBC that the “threshold” for full recognition is 100 UN members, which has obvious implications in many of the world’s trouble spots.

Absolutely. International recognition is the basis behind legal statehood (although it was recently determined that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was ‘not illegal’ even though they are not yet fully recognised, which seems to make this whole area even murkier). But the Vatican is recognised by lots of countries.

82. oldandrew

“It wouldn’t seem you have looked very far. There are numerous links on line, and quite a few discussion in the Catholic press.”

You can find as many links as you like repeating the original press paraphrase of what Hoyos said. The point is you don’t actually have what Hoyos said. Press reports repeating a claim by a press agency paraphrasing something somebody said on the radio about a meeting is a long way short of actual evidence about the meeting.

If the meeting approved the letter then, yes, it would be an important story. However, we currently only have fourth hand accounts of the meeting (press reports of a press agency claim about a radio interview about the meeting), followed by no press interest in publishing either a second hand account (i.e reporting what Hoyos actually said in his interview) or seeking a first hand account. When the press imply something sensational fourth-hand and then drop it immediately it is more than a fair bet that the original story turned out not to be as sensational as it first appeared.

And, of course, what we are now dealing with is fifth hand claims: internet commentators reinterpreting press reports based on a press agency report about a radio interview about a meeting. This is the kind of level where something can’t even really be considered a serious allegation and is simply a smear. And inevitably when dealing with a smear we have the usual “well if it’s not true, why haven’t they officially denied it?” argument, beloved of conspiracy nuts.

If you can’t find what Hoyos actually said, then why would anybody believe that he made absolutely sensational claims yet, for a month, nobody ever bothered to quote them directly, or follow up the original press reports about them?

@82 oldandrew

Oh come now.. you are being disingenuous!

Held to that standard, it would be difficult to discuss or comment on any given issue: absent an actual court case, we all have to go (to an extent) on what is reported. The Tablet is hardly an unreliable source. It is widely reported in the media that the Vatican has accepted that the Hoyos letter is legitimate. His comments on a national radio network in his home country, again widely reported in the media, appear not to have been disowned either.

Naturally it is possible that ALL of the media are wrong. All Hoyos or the Vatican have to do is say so…. but they haven’t have they?

Your point that : “This is the kind of level where something can’t even really be considered a serious allegation and is simply a smear” is simply wishful thinking. Why are you so unwilling to accept that there might be any case to answer? I can assure you I’m no conspiracy nut… but I am fairly convinced that there is more evidence of a conspiracy of silence about the allegations in the Church, than there is of a sectarian conspiracy being mounted against the church.

Many of the instances of child abuse covered up by the church started out as allegations. Why are you scared of the light being shone on this one?

84. oldandrew

“Held to that standard, it would be difficult to discuss or comment on any given issue: absent an actual court case, we all have to go (to an extent) on what is reported.”

I’ll bear that in mind next time I see the front cover of the Daily Mail.

The point is that this particular allegation is based on what was said in a radio interview, and yet as far as we can tell nobody has ever quoted the important bit of the interview directly; there has been no attempts by the press to look into the allegation, and the Vatican hasn’t even bothered to respond to the allegation.

(Although, of course, to the conspiracy theorist the fact that, after its initial appeance, nobody appears to have taken an allegation seriously is evidence that it is true.)

@84 oldandrew

“of course, to the conspiracy theorist the fact that, after its initial appeance, nobody appears to have taken an allegation seriously is evidence that it is true”

Errrrmmm..no, not really. Reviewing on line coverage, there was a fair bit of coverage a month ago. I’d say there is plenty of evidence people took it seriously. If wing nut conspiract theorists leap to the conclusion is neither here nor there: it doesn’t prove anything one way or the other.

The Vatican may simply have been studiously avoiding the issue, or it may indeed not have been pressed on it. That doesn’t “prove” anything one way or the other. Obviously I didn’t hear Hoyos on the radio in Colombia, and only have the reports in the press to go on. there are certainly a number of “quotes” from both Hoyos’ radio braodcast, and his statements in Murcia, Spain on line.

Of course I wouldn’t maintain that these “ipso facto” make the allegations true, but by the same token it doesn’t make them obviously false either.

86. oldandrew

“I’d say there is plenty of evidence people took it seriously.”

Does this seriousness extend to anyone actually bothering to find out what he actually said? Or for that matter finding out anything at all about the interview or the meeting that wasn’t in the initial press agency report?

“Of course I wouldn’t maintain that these “ipso facto” make the allegations true, but by the same token it doesn’t make them obviously false either”

Makes them highly unlikely though doesn’t it? A serious allegation about the Pope is widely cut and pasted from the press wires one day, and then for the follwing month no details about the allegation appear, not even clarification about precisely what was alleged, and nobody even seems to have got a response from the Vatican about it. It hardly seems plausible that the press have confirmed that the allegation is as serious as was made out but have decided not to run with it or ask questions about it. I think believing that the allegation is true, but the press are not pursuing it, would put someone firmly in the conspiracy theorist category.

@86 oldandrew

Your tendentiousness apparently knows no bounds!

Firstly, I didn’t say that I believed the allegations were true, I said they should be further investigated, and needed a response. You seem intent that only “first hand” knowledge is worth taking in the least seriously, which is an impossible standard. As the history of “allegations” against the church demonstrates, the rarely spring into the full light of truth uncontested.

Your continued obfuscations, and frankly rather odd insistance that there is no foundation to the allegations surrounding the Hoyos affair, only serve to show that you are not open to reasoned debate, or indeed to discovering the truth.

You obviously have an axe to grind defending the Catholic church no matter what, regardless of the weight of evidence. Attempting to divert criticism with claims that people are hysterical, sectarian or prone to conspiracy theories does nothing to further the debate.

@86 oldandrew

“Makes them highly unlikely though doesn’t it? A serious allegation about the Pope is widely cut and pasted from the press wires one day, and then for the follwing month no details about the allegation appear, not even clarification about precisely what was alleged, and nobody even seems to have got a response from the Vatican about it.”

No, it doesn’t make them any more unlikely in and of itself, any more than an overwhelming but not conclusive amount of evidence makes them likely. The issue here is that we don’t know, we deserve to be told unambiguously the full story, and the fact that the Vatican hasn’t replied is hardly evidence that the allegations are false, or indeed true: it’s just silence.

There are now 2 allegations about 2 Popes. Firstly Hoyos’ allegation that John Paul II approved the letter. As I said above, we only have Hoyos’ word for this, so it may be difficult to prove one way or the other. If it is false, it’s a quite extra-ordinary thing for him to say, given his senior position, (he was even talked of as Pope material himself on JP II’s death) and closeness to both the last and current Popes. The second allegation relates to whether Benedict XVI, when still a Cardinal, attended the meeting at which the offending (and offensive) letter was sent to Bishop Pican. It is unequivocally reported in the press that the Vatican has confirmed he WAS at the council concerned.

To maintain your view that none of this can be trusted because it’s not first hand is simply odd. Are you insisting that we should believe nothing at all unless we actually witness it or are present ourselves? Are whole slews of the international media dupes, incompetent, raving anti-Catholics perhaps?

89. oldandrew

“Firstly, I didn’t say that I believed the allegations were true, I said they should be further investigated, and needed a response.”

You do get that this is what conspiracy theorists always say when they have no actual evidence?

“You obviously have an axe to grind…”

And that’s the other thing they say.

@89

FFS what is it you don’t get about these reports being in the press? It’s not as if they are the product of tin foli hatted weirdos on the extremes of the blogosphere… they were reported in the mainstream press.. Reuters, The Independent, Catholic press like the Tablet. What do you want, a personally addressed letter from Hoyos, actual sight of papers confirming JP 2 approved, or that Ratzinger thought it was a great idea

I give up..you won’t engage in proper debate.

91. oldandrew

“What do you want”

Details of what Hoyos actually alleged. If you think the reports that said Hoyos made incriminating allegations are true, or even just plausible, then you should be able to find a copy, or at least a detailed description, of the allegations. If you can’t then the only explanations are:

a) a conspiracy by the press not to report the allegations in detail

or

b) once people looked in detail at what was actually said there were no sensational allegations to report.

On the more general point about how many papers reported the stoiry originally, it really doesn’t matter how many different newspapers base stories on a press agency report, if that single report is sketchy and the details are never confirmed. The claims on this thread are fifth hand: internet interpretations of press reports based on a press agency report paraphrasing an interview that mentioned a meeting; a meeting which strangely enough nobody has bothered reporting any details of ever since. If you believe that sort of thing, you’d believe anything.

“people with a history of anti-Catholicism”

Or “sane people”, as they’re also known. All religion’s silly, but Catholicism is up there with Wahabbi-ism among the very worst.

Suggesting that it’s bigoted or anything other than *correct* to hate Catholicism and the leaders of the RC Church is like suggesting it’s bigoted or anything other than *correct* to hate rape and rapists. Not just because of the abuse conspiracy – also because, like rape, Catholicism is inherently a bad thing.

@91 oldandrew

I’m honestly stumped as to how you think “the media”, and the reporting of news works?

Even a cursory glance at the various reports of the Hoyos affair since the story broke (or rather re-emerged) in April demonstrated to any reasonable person that there is a perfectly legitimate case to be made for further investigation, and at the very least a detailed response from Hoyos personally and the Vatican. The fact that you don’t see this, and continue to insist that the things reported are not true or a conspiract demonstrates that your mind is already made up. Why is it already made up?

You said:

” If you think the reports that said Hoyos made incriminating allegations are true, or even just plausible, then you should be able to find a copy, or at least a detailed description, of the allegations.”

Hoyos is reported (widely in the mainstream media) as having alleged that JP II explicitly encouraged him to send the offending letter to Bishop Pican. There is therefore no trouble finding pretty convincing evidence and a detailed description of the allegation. The question of whether this specific allegation is true or not is (as I already admitted above) difficult but not impossible to verify. If it isn’t true, or at least unlikely on the evidence, it means Hoyos is a liar (or as you seem determined to believe despite all the coverage, may never have said it in the first place). If it is true, or at least likely on the evidence, it means JP II is just as culpable as the others involved in this sorry affair of condoning the attempt by Picard to protect and shield a priest he knew was a child molester.

The second allegation (again widely reported in the mainstream media) has the Vatican itself admitting that then Cardinal Ratzinger was actually present at the council which approved sending the letter to Pican, and circulating it widely to Roman Catholic bishops worldwide. The current Pope is therefore also implicated in condoning the attempt to prevent justice being done.

Your rather odd response to the above (fairly detailed) reports is that: ” If you believe that sort of thing, you’d believe anything.” because you insist these reports are fifth hand, paraphrases etc, etc.

I would suggest that it is you who are being credulous and closed minded. To be so determined to believe that there is nothing in these reports suggests that a whole slew of reports from outlets as respected as the BBC, Reuters and even Catholic publications such as “The Tablet” have been duped and didn’t check their facts, suggests that your mind is already made up. You set great store by the fact that “nothing has been reported since”, which proves nothing.

“I’m honestly stumped as to how you think “the media”, and the reporting of news works?”

Let me explain.

Most newspapers don’t have a worldwide news-gathering operation, and certainly not one that can immediately jump into action as a story appears. A lot of newspaper stories come from press agencies. Sometimes they say this explicitly, and you’ll see “according to the Press Association” or something similar in the reports. Often they don’t. As a result you get very similar stories only slightly reworded in a lot of different newspapers. If a point in a story is ambiguously worded, newspapers cannot rephrase it and you get something pretty much identical in every paper. This is what we have in this case, a single press agency report, ambiguously worded. No matter how many times you say it appeared in the mainstream press, the story never went beyond this one original report, no details to confirm the sensationalist interpretation in the fifth hand accounts ever emerged. The usual conclusion in such cases is that the original report was not accurate, or at least, the facts were not as sensational as the story originally implied. Obviously, conspiracy theorists don’t care how the story actually turned out, or whether the original claim was from one single source who later failed to provide any details, it is simply something else to be put in their scrapbook.

“Hoyos is reported (widely in the mainstream media) as having alleged that JP II …”

Another thing conspiracy theorists do when challenged to justify an allegation is change the allegation to something else.

@94 oldandrew

No.. this just won’t wash. Let’s take it step by step:

I assume you don’t dispute the existence of the letter from Hoyos to Pican?

Hoyos is reported as talking about the allegations in an interview on the Radio in Colombia, and in a conference in Murcia, Spain. So your point is that unless you were actually listening to the radio broadcast in Colombia, or attending the event in Spain then NO reliance can be placed on the report at all?

Even if BOTH of these things were only reported by one news agency, or a couple it is just not credible that Hoyos or the Vatican would have moved swiftly to deny them if they had never happened, or had been misreported.

As to your comment: “Another thing conspiracy theorists do when challenged to justify an allegation is change the allegation to something else.”

Where have I, or anyone else, done that..explain.

You continue to claim I’m a conspiracy theorist. As I’ve said all to often above, I’m not uncritically accepting what is reported. I’d like to see more evidence, or some clear statements which would demonstrate as you say that these allegations are unfounded, but we haven’t had that.

96. oldandrew

“Even if BOTH of these things were only reported by one news agency, or a couple it is just not credible that Hoyos or the Vatican would have moved swiftly to deny them if they had never happened, or had been misreported.”

Here we go again, the conspiracy theorist fantasy that if nobody can be bothered to deny something then it must be true (sorry, must be “worth investigating”).

“You continue to claim I’m a conspiracy theorist.”

No, I continue to point out when you act like one. When you use a lack of official denials as evidence of truth. When you promote an allegation but, when challenged about it, say you are only arguing that it should be investigated. When you switch allegations mid-argument. When you speculate about the motives of people who challenge you. When you interpret obvious requests for evidence as indicating some kind of extreme sceptical position on the part of the person making the request. When you give great weight to interpretations of things found on the internet relative to primary sources. When you deal with explanations of why you are almost certainly wrong by saying that it doesn’t prove you are wrong. This is all standard conspiracy theorist behaviour.

@96 oldandrew

1) “No, I continue to point out when you act like one. When you use a lack of official denials as evidence of truth.”

False. I have not said it was evidence of truth. I HAVE said that the fact that neither Hoyos or the Vatican has officially denied either allegation means that you cannot “prove” they are false, any more than a conspiracy theorist could claim that it menat they were true.

2) “When you promote an allegation but, when challenged about it, say you are only arguing that it should be investigated.”

Examining the allegation is quite legitimate. It’s in the public domain, and given the seriousness of the allegations, it’s quite valid to say they should be investigated further. Do you think they should be rejected out of hand, or don’t think sending the letter itself was wrong?

3) “When you switch allegations mid-argument.”

Not true. Either you have a short memory, or you are deliberately trying to mislead. In researching for the exchanges above, the allegation about then Cardinal Ratzinger (@42 above) being complicit surfaced first. Hoyos’ reported attempt to implicate JP II surfaced later in the exchange of posts, following further searches on-line.

4) “When you speculate about the motives of people who challenge you. When you interpret obvious requests for evidence as indicating some kind of extreme sceptical position on the part of the person making the request.”

Because your motives are open to question. Unless you feel yourseld to be somehow above question. You have consistently failed to engage in proper debate, falling back on the same tired arguments without justifying why you feel the allegations are not worth pursuing. If it talks like a troll, walks like a troll, and argues like a troll…. gues what… it’s a troll!

5) “When you give great weight to interpretations of things found on the internet relative to primary sources.”

Again you have consistently failed to justify your Quixotic fixation that only primary sources are relevant. A facsimile of the original letter (in French) is available on line. Presumably you accept it is genuine? The Vatican have confirmed (yes, in the press, they haven’t written to me personally) that the letter is genuine, and that Ratzinger was present at the council which discussed it. Would you deny either of these points? Hoyos’ allegation about JP II (again not given personally to me, but given that it’s appeared everywhere from the BBC, and Reuters to well known Catholic internet sites and newspapers pretty well attested) is about as serious as they come, particulalrly for a Pope whom many want to see canonized quickly.

6) “When you deal with explanations of why you are almost certainly wrong by saying that it doesn’t prove you are wrong.”

You have given no such explanations, merely trotting out vague generalisations that because there are no primary sources, or that the story hasn’t been followed up, or that it’s hysterical anti-Catholicism.

98. oldandrew

Oh for pity’s sake.

You are now using those same tactics to deny you are using those tactics.

Still I guess that’s enough to convince me this whole argument is futile. Let me know if you ever come up with any actual details of Hoyos’ allegations, but I concede that it is pointless explaining to you any further why fifth-hand accounts aren’t good enough, why “it was in the papers once” is not a demonstration, and why “they haven’t denied it” is not grounds for taking an allegation seriously.

@98 oldandrew

Your only tactic appears to be stonewalling. You’ve never once properly engaged in a discussion let alone meaningfully argued your case. Insisting that because Hoyos’ allegations only appear in the press, they are therefore invalid, or not worthy of debate is simply sophistry.

As you say, further debate is futile, as your mind is already closed.

100. oldandrew

“Insisting that because Hoyos’ allegations only appear in the press, they are therefore invalid”

For pity’s sake, how have you not tired of this tactic?

101. Galen 10

It’s not a tactic, but I am tired of you not addressing direct questions. Probably becuase you have no coherent arguments.

102. oldandrew

“It’s not a tactic”

It’s “interpret[ing] obvious requests for evidence as indicating some kind of extreme sceptical position on the part of the person making the request”.

103. Galen 10

@102

I think we’ve established that this exchange is pointless. You’re not worth engaging with.


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  15. John Band

    I like this article. The whole point about the UK is *we're not Catholic*, so why're we feting that sick cult's leader? http://bit.ly/9F8CKO

  16. Charlotte Stamper

    RT @johnb78 The whole point about the UK is we're not Catholic, so why are we feting that sick cult's leader? http://bit.ly/9F8CKO

  17. Dave Weeden

    RT @johnb78: I like this article. The whole point about the UK is *we're not Catholic*, so why're we feting that sick cult's leader? http://bit.ly/9F8CKO





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