Prosecute the Pope as an accomplice to sex crimes

This is a guest post by the Protest The Pope Campaign

LONDON, 28 March 2010 - The Protest The Pope campaign demonstrates outside Westminster Cathedral against the Pope's cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic clergy.

Fifty protesters from humanist, secular, women’s and gay organisations yesterday accused the Pope of “covering up child sex abuse by Catholic clergy,” calling him a “protector of paedophile priests” and “an accomplice to sex crimes.”

We demanded: “The Pope must resign” and “Prosecute the Pope for collusion with sex abusers.”

Our protest took place at 12 noon on Palm Sunday (28 March 2010), outside London’s Westminster Cathedral, the main Catholic church in Britain.

The protest was greeted by a mixture of jeers and support from Catholic congregants leaving the Cathedral after Palm Sunday mass. A
few applauded the protesters. Others heckled. Most expressed no opinion either way.

“In 2001, the Pope wrote to all Catholic Bishops worldwide, ordering them to maintain ‘Papal secrecy’ about sex abuse by clergy. He threatened to excommunicate anyone who spoke about it. This makes the Pope personally responsible for the cover-up,” said human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, of the Protest the Pope campaign.

Pope Benedict’s recent apology is inadequate because he has not apologised for his own failure to act against paedophile priests. He has not said sorry for his own role in covering up their sex crimes.

The Pope knew about child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. He failed to stop it and he failed to report the abusers to the police. His moral authority is irreversibly tarnished. He should resign.

We intend to investigate whether the Pope can be prosecuted as an accomplice to child sex abuse. If anyone anyone else was involved in protecting paedophiles from prosecution, they’d probably be arrested as accomplices. Why should the Pope be treated differently? There is strong evidence of his collusion with sex abusing clergy. We believe the Pope should face a criminal investigation on charges of complicity.

The Pope failed to ensure that priests who raped and sexually abused young people were reported to the police. This is why he is not welcome in the UK and why we object to him being honoured with a State Visit in September, especially a State Visit that is being partly funded by the taxpayer. His visit should be called off.

The world renowned Swiss Catholic theologian, Rev Father Hans Kung, has accused the Pope of ‘co-responsibility’ for the cover-up of priestly sex abuse and criticised the weakness and evasions of his recent apology. Rev Father Kung urged: “In the name of truth, Joseph Ratzinger, the man who for decades was mainly responsible for the concealment of these abuses at a world level, should have pronounced a mea culpa.”

Rev Father Hans Kung wrote recently:

“In his 24 years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, from around the world, all cases of grave sexual offences by clerics had to be reported, under strictest secrecy (“secretum pontificum”), to his curial office, which was exclusively responsible for dealing with them. Ratzinger himself, in a letter on “grave sexual crimes” addressed to all the bishops under the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe “papal secrecy” in such cases. In his five years as Pope, Benedict XVI has done nothing to change this practice with all its fateful consequences.’’

Sunday’s protest (more photos here) was organised by the Protest the Pope campaign:

‘Protest the Pope’ is a campaign against the Pope being honoured with a State Visit to Britain. We object to the Pope’s often harsh, intolerant views on a wide range of social issues and his cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. He is unsuitable to be honoured
with a State Visit. He is not welcome in the UK.