Vatican: Pope shouldn’t be arrested – “it would be very strange”
A lawyer for British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins said in London at the weekend he would try to have Pope Benedict arrested to face questions over accusations the Church covered up cases of sexual abuse of children by priests.
Asked about this at a briefing on the pope’s trip to Malta this weekend, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi scoffed.
“This is a bizarre idea to say the least. It looks like the intent is to make a public opinion splash. I think they should look for something more serious and concrete before we can respond to it,” he said.
“The pope’s visit (to Britain) is a visit of state, and so it would be very strange if during a state visit the person who is invited to make a state visit is arrested,” he said.
Dawkins, a scientist and outspoken critic of religion, has asked human rights lawyers to examine whether charges could be brought against the pope during the September 16-19 trip.
The Vatican has rejected accusations the pope helped to cover up abuse by priests in jobs he held before his election in 2005 and has accused the media of waging a “despicable campaign of defamation” against him.
In Washington, the American Humanist Association, which advocates the rights of non-believers, backed Dawkins’ view that the pope should not have diplomatic immunity as a head of state and called for a “criminal investigation” of the church.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Vatican: Pope shouldn’t be arrested – “it would be very strange”,