Reuters reported this weekend that lawyers for British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins will try to have Pope Benedict arrested to face questions over the Catholic church’s child abuse scandal when he arrives in Britain for his first papal visit which is scheduled for mid-September. In an email to Reuters, Dawkins’ lawyer said there are three possible approaches to arresting the pope: a complaint to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, a private or public prosecution “for crimes against humanity” or a civil case. You can read the entire story here for more background.
***NOTE*** Richard Dawkins has responded to earlier reports from Reuters regarding claims that he is leading this charge. His response can be found here. Thanks Ray Ingles for pointing this out in the comments.
Undoubtedly, there will be much written and discussed about this in the coming weeks and months. And there should be. Sexual abuse of anyone in any situation should be investigated and justice should be sought.
While I am not a Catholic, I know and have worked with incredible Catholic believers who take seriously the principles of Catholic social teaching. I am no expert in these principles and their application across centuries and continents, but I have seen these principles taught and encouraged in faculty, staff and students at the Catholic university in New York where I teach.
As with so many situations where institutions fail in one way or another to consistently practice what they preach, I find myself wondering…
Will the criminal acts and poor judgement of some members of institutional church negate the good that has and continues to be done by those who follow and apply their faith in their day to day lives?
Would other institutions – faith-based, government-based, educational, private-sector, etc. – hold up under similar scrutiny as consistently protecting the interests and needs of the children in their care?
Is it possible to discuss such emotionally charged questions in a way that is balanced and respectful?
Would love to hear your thoughts…