Thursday, September 9, 2010

Has Geoffrey Robertson Lost The Plot?

From a Sydney Morning Herald article 9th September 2010:

THE Vatican should be treated as a kind of ''rogue state'' by the rest of the world until it stops using statehood - and the ancient rules of the canon law - to protect paedophile priests.

So says Geoffrey Robertson, QC, the veteran human rights lawyer and United Nations judge, arguing that the Catholic Church is the only religion permitted under international law to claim the privileges of statehood and its leaders immunity from civil or criminal action.

A response from Austen Ivereigh at America Magazine to similar claims of Geoffery Robertson:
Where to begin? [in addressing the nuttiness of Robertson's claims] (a) the Vatican does not deal with abusive priests, local dioceses or congregations do; (b) Where these have failed to act against abusive priests, it has not been because they have resorted to canon law instead of civil law, but because they failed to resort to either canon OR civil law; (c) the cases which have been referred to the Vatican (since 2001) have been referred precisely in order to ensure appropriate action IS taken; (d) confidentiality is imposed in canonical legal processes in those cases where -- as in solicitation in the confessional -- these are canonical crimes, not civil ones; (e) the canonical process (eg laicisation) only takes place after any civil action (prosecution, trial, sentencing) has taken place; (f) it wasn't the Vatican which back in the 1980s moved priests accused of abuse to other parishes, it was bishops. And so on.
If only Pope Benedict were an ordinary citizen, he could rightly sue Robertson for his wholly untrue and grossly defamatory claim that clerical abuse was allowed to take place because "Joseph Ratzinger, both as head of the CDF and as Pope, has insisted for the past 30 years that all such cases be dealt with in secrecy under canon law." That is a monstrous lie -- and, given Cardinal Ratzingers record in this area, simply laughable.

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