Papal Culpability

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have announced that they are going to try to have the Pope arrested for “crimes against humanity” when he visits Britain in September. I agree that Ratzinger’s behavior has been criminal, but “crimes against humanity” seems to me to be a little over the top. (Hitchens should stay away from terms like “crimes against humanity”, since he supported the Iraq War. Such things could come back to bite him.) They also claim that the Pope has no immunity, because the Vatican is not a sovereign state, since it is not a member of the United Nations. This argument seems specious to me. Many nations (including the U.S.) have diplomatic relations with the Vatican. In any case, it seems to me that militant atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens shouldn’t need to fret about having Benny arrested. The very fact that these allegations about child abuse have been made public shows that the power of the Catholic Church has declined greatly in recent years. In previous generations people were afraid to make such accusations in public. (Don’t think that bad behavior started with Ratzinger. During the Paris Commune, for example, the Communards found in the Picpus nunnery nuns who had been imprisoned in cells for years, as well as instruments of torture.)

People’s whole view of Christianity is changing. A few years ago, the world’s bestselling novel claimed that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had sex. In previous centuries, this would have been considered the worst sort of blasphemy. The Church would have had the author tortured and then burned at the stake. Now, church leaders could only wring their hands in impotent rage.

The liberation theology movement, which Ratzinger helped to kill, offered the Church’s last, best hope for reasserting itself in the modern world. Now, the Church is losing ground to evangelical Protestant churches in Latin America, and it is losing ground to shopping malls and to computer games in the U.S. All the Church can do now is circle its wagons and defend itself from accusations about pedophile priests and abusive nuns. I guess this just shows that even when you’re Christ’s representative on Earth, shit catches up with you sooner or later.

Update: I have since learned that people in Germany sometimes refer to the Pope (not affectionately) as der Ratzepapst. I swear, I’m not making this up.

As the above photo suggests, I believe that Ratzinger missed his true calling in life. He should have been an actor in grade B horror movies.

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