Pope claims 'immunity' from cases over child sexual abuse

Pope Benedict is accused by victims' lawyers of being ultimately responsible for a cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests.

Pope claims 'immunity' from cases over child sexual abuse

Pope Benedict, accused by victims' lawyers of being ultimately responsible for a cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests, cannot be called to testify at any trial because he has "immunity" as a head of state, a top Vatican legal official said on Thursday.

The interview with Giuseppe dalla Torre, head of the Vatican's tribunal, was published in Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper as Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, has held the Holy Thursday mass, which commemorates the last supper of Jesus Christ, in the Vatican City.

The day is part of a holy week, a time of penance when Christians are supposed to confess their deepest guilts and ask for forgiveness.

This year the solemn period coincides with a new wave of controversy surrounding allegations of Catholic priests involved in child sex-abuse cases.

The pope did not refer in his sermon to the crisis of confidence sweeping the Church as almost daily revelations surface of sexual abuse of children in the past, accompanied by allegations of a cover-up.

Dalla Torre outlined the Vatican's strategy to defend the pope from being forced to testify in several lawsuits concerning sexual abuse which are currently moving through the U.S. legal system.

"The pope is certainly a head of state, who has the same juridical status as all heads of state," he said, arguing he therefore had immunity from foreign courts.

Lawyers representing victims of sexual abuse by priests in several cases in the United States have said they would want the pope to testify in an attempt to try to prove the Vatican was negligent.

But the pope is protected by diplomatic immunity because more than 170 countries, including the United States, have diplomatic relations with the Vatican. They recognise it as a sovereign state and the pope as its sovereign head.

Dalla Torre rejected suggestions that U.S. bishops, some of whom have been accused of moving molesters from parish to parish instead of turning them in to police, could be considered Vatican employees, making their boss ultimately responsible.

"The Church is not a multi-national corporation," dalla Torre said. "He has (spiritual) primacy over the Church ... but every bishop is legally responsible for running a diocese."

Some U.S. lawyers and critics of the Church say that Vatican documents in 1962 and 2001 encouraged local bishops not to report sexual abuse cases.

As the scandal has swept across Europe, bishops trying to contain damage have held special meetings with shaken Catholics.

On Wednesday night in Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn told an emotional gathering the Catholic Church as a whole must accept its guilt and its collective responsibility for sexual abuse committed by its members.

The Vatican has taken off the gloves in its response to media reports alleging the pope mishandled a series of abuse cases before he was elected.

The Vatican has denied any cover-up over the abuse of 200 deaf boys in the United States by Reverend Lawrence Murphy from 1950 to 1974. The New York Times reported the Vatican and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, were warned about Murphy but he was not defrocked.

The Times said its reports were "based on meticulous reporting and documents."


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Nisan 2010, 16:35

SeydiAli

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Ibrahim Yilmaz
Ibrahim Yilmaz - 13 yıl Önce

Quran is clear about the issue; they invented the priesthood that God ordered them not and than could not carry out what it necessitated. I do not know anything that could more briefly explain the whole issue.