Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pope's Diplomatic Immunity is being Challenged

In a Predictable move, Houston attorney Daniel Shea said that Pope Benedict XVI should be considered the head of a church, not the head of state, as he moved to challenge a filing by Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler in Houston federal court to grant the pope immunity.

Three unidentified males claim they were abused 10 years ago and the church not only did not do enough to stop child abuse by priests, but assisted in it. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, and Monsignor William Pickard are also named in the suit, as is a former seminarian, Juan Carlos Patino Arango, who has allegedly fled the country.

Beyond the typical lawyering that gives lawyers a bad name, I don't understand the point of this move. It is an extreme longshot to keep the pope, named as Joseph Ratzinger, a defendant in this case. First, there would need to be a finding that he is not a head of state and does not merit immunity, when, of course, he is a head of state. Second, there has to be a credible claim that the pope either assisted abuse personally, or facilitated it with intent through policy directives. How could this not get dismissed outright?

Justice demands that if abuse did occur, then those directly responsible must be held to account. Re the pope, however, this is a fishing trip that ought to come home with an empty stringer and if succussful will likely only extend whatever time for reconciliation is needed between the church and these men.

Nevertheless, it would not surprise me in the least to see some plaintiff in a country with, shall we say, a more pliable rule of law (or maybe the 9th Circuit) try to use this as a basis to draw the pope in as a defendant for some other case(s); a Predictable move from a Dictator of Relativism. We'll be keeping an eye out for it.

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