Bring the Pope to Justice

Christopher Hitchens in Newsweek:

The case for bringing the head of the Catholic hierarchy within the orbit of law is easily enough made. All it involves is the ability to look at a naked emperor and ask the question “Why?” Mentally remove his papal vestments and imagine him in a suit, and Joseph Ratzinger becomes just a Bavarian bureaucrat who has failed in the only task he was ever set—that of damage control. The question started small. In 2002, I happened to be on Hardball With Chris Matthews, discussing what the then attorney general of Massachusetts, Thomas Reilly, had termed a massive cover-up by the church of crimes against children by more than a thousand priests. I asked, why is the man who is prima facie responsible, Cardinal Bernard Law, not being questioned by the forces of law and order? Why is the church allowed to be judge in its own case and enabled in effect to run private courts where gross and evil offenders end up being “forgiven”? This point must have hung in the air a bit, and perhaps lodged in Cardinal Law’s own mind, because in December of that year he left Boston just hours before state troopers arrived with a subpoena seeking his grand-jury testimony. Where did he go? To Rome, where he later voted in the election of Pope Benedict XVI and now presides over the beautiful church of Santa Maria Maggiore, as well as several Vatican subcommittees.

Imagine if a government official found themselves in these circumstances.  Better yet, imagine the official is the superintendent of a school district, such as the one here in West Bend.  Imagine our superintendent quietly refusing to discipline a teacher who has been  found to have raped or molested a student.  Instead of reporting the teacher to the police, the superintendent decides to transfer the teacher to another school within the district.  The superintendent would be placed on administrative leaving pending an investigation and the community would be in an uproar to have said superintendent and the teacher fired and persecuted to the full extent of the law.  Yet somehow Cardinals and Popes who do this very same thing aren’t held accountable and can claim immunity as the head of a state.  Unconscionable.

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