Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dawkins, Hitchens support legal challenge against Ratzinger

Richard Dawkins writes, in response to a Times article suggesting that he plans to arrest Joseph Ratzinger:
Needless to say, I did NOT say "I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI" or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope's proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my 'Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope' article here:

Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson's subsequent 'Put the Pope in the Dock' article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal.

The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

Even if the Pope doesn't end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn't cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope's visit, let alone pay for it.
Also from the Times, an article surmising that the practice of sending abusive priests to therapy (rather than jail) contributed to high abuse rates.

What do members of the Boston-area nontheist community think -- how should the man known as Pope Benedict XV be held to account for the crimes of Catholic priests protected by the Church? Submit your vote.

Members of the Boston Atheists will be collaborating on a letter to the Archdiocese of Boston. We think the Catholic leadership should know what their secular neighbors think of the current situation. We're all in this together, eh? I don't think it is a legitimate argument that this is a Catholic problem to be dealt with by Catholics; rather it is a social problem to be dealt with by whomever is willing to step up and be counted as adult enough to accept responsibility for enforcing a durable ethics.