Criminal charges were filed against Pope Benedict XVI at the International World Court last week by two lawyers from the Pope's home state of Bavaria. The charges, which allege crimes against humanity, were submitted by Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel of Marktheidenfeld to Dr Luis Moreno Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the Hague.
The 16,500-word indictment alleges “three worldwide crimes which until now have not been denounced . . . (as) the traditional reverence toward ‘ecclesiastical authority’ has clouded the sense of right and wrong”.
From The Irish Times (Feb. 24):
They claim the Pope “is responsible for the preservation and leadership of a worldwide totalitarian regime of coercion which subjugates its members with terrifying and health-endangering threats”.
They allege he is also responsible for “the adherence to a fatal forbiddance of the use of condoms, even when the danger of HIV-Aids infection exists” and for “the establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes”.
They claim the Catholic Church “acquires its members through a compulsory act, namely, through the baptism of infants that do not yet have a will of their own”. This act was “irrevocable” and is buttressed by threats of excommunication and the fires of hell.
It was “a grave impairment of the personal freedom of development and of a person’s emotional and mental integrity”. The Pope was “responsible for its preservation and enforcement and, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his Church, he was jointly responsible” with Pope John Paul II.
Catholics “threatened by HIV-AIDS . . . are faced with a terrible alternative: If they protect themselves with condoms during sexual intercourse, they become grave sinners; if they do not protect themselves out of fear of the punishment of sin threatened by the church, they become candidates for death.”
There was also “strong suspicion that Dr Joseph Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his church and as Pope, has up to the present day systematically covered up the sexual abuse of children and youths and protected the perpetrators, thereby aiding and abetting further sexual violence toward young people”.
Calls for the Pope to be tried for crimes against humanity have been issued many times before. Only last April, Geoffrey Robinson, a United Nations jurist from the UK, called for an international criminal investigation of Benedict by the UN World Criminal Court over the cover-up of crimes by pedophile priests, but nothing came of it. That may not be the case this time because once charges are filed, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court must investigate them.