The media’s favourite
atheist, Christopher
Hitchens
, has called for an “international warrant” for the arrest of the
Pope on charges of abetting sex abuse. Now the British-Australian celebrity human
rights lawyer Geoffrey
Robertson
, who is also a high-ranking UN jurist, is using the crisis to
call for the abolition of the Holy See’s status as an international state and possibly
the indictment of the Pope before the International Criminal Court.

“The ICC Statute definition of a crime
against humanity includes rape and sexual slavery and other similarly inhumane
acts causing harm to mental or physical health, committed against civilians on
a widespread or systematic scale, if condoned by a government or a de facto
authority. It has been held to cover the recruitment of children as soldiers or
sex slaves. If acts of sexual abuse by priests are not isolated or sporadic,
but part of a wide practice both known to and unpunished by their de facto
authority then they fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the ICC – if that
practice continued after July 2002, when the court was established.”

The Pope’s status as a head of state means
that he is immune from legal action. But Robertson says that the Vatican’s
unique status “cannot stand up to scrutiny”. 

One legal expert told C-FAM’s Friday
Fax
, “Without in any way minimizing the seriousness of the alleged offenses
of Catholic priests, it would be a grave mistake to the laws of human rights to
permit a trivializing of the responsibility to protect, and to play into the
hands of American contingency-fee lawyers.”

Any other international law experts out
there who want to comment?

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.