To all of you who
thought my article, Pope Joey�s
rap sheet, was not fair or, believe it or not complete enough, I went back
to the research-and-email well and hauled up these pearls.
Let�s start with a picture
of Ratzinger as Hitler Youth for all you doubting Thomases.
This is the winter
uniform. The spring/summer uniform which I originally described, shirt, tie,
long shorts, high socks, bandolier, and swastika armband, that picture has been
washed from the Internet. �Sorry, this page is no longer available.� So, the long
arm of the censor has been at work. But, I think you get the picture. So let�s
fast forward to 2007.
US Says Pope Immune
From Molestation Law
This is the headline
from what may be one of the singular pieces of worthy Fox News reporting: �ROME, The U.S. Justice Department has told a Texas court
that a lawsuit accusing Pope Benedict XVI of conspiring to cover up the sexual
molestation of three boys by a seminarian should be dismissed because the
pontiff enjoys immunity as head of state of the Holy See. . . ."
The story added that Assistant U.S. Attorney General Peter
Keisler said that permitting the lawsuit to forward would be �incompatible with
US foreign policy interests.� But what about justice? Well, Judge Lee Rosenthal
of the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Texas in Houston did
not rule. Because US courts have been held up by "suggestion of
immunity" motions submitted by the government.
A 1994 lawsuit against Pope John Paul II, also filed in Texas, was thrown out after the
US government filed a similar motion to bail out John Paul, Joey and the Boyz.
The Vatican Embassy in Washington had asked �the US government to issue the
immunity suggestion and do everything it could to get the case dismissed.� No
The article also says, �The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named as a
defendant in a civil lawsuit by three plaintiffs who allege that Juan Carlos
Patino-Arango, a Colombian-born seminarian on assignment at St. Francis de
Sales church in Houston, molested them during counseling sessions in the church
in the mid-1990s.� Patino-Arango was indicted in a criminal case by a grand
jury in Harris County, Texas, and became a fugitive from justice.
The lawsuit alleged that Ratzinger, �who headed the
Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming pope, was
involved in a conspiracy to hide Patino-Arango's crimes and help him escape
prosecution.� Imagine that. The lawsuit cited a May 18, 2001, letter from
Ratzinger (written in Latin for complete transparency) to bishops round the
world. It explained that "grave crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors would be handled by his congregation and
that the proceedings of special church tribunals handling the cases were
subject to �pontifical secret.�"
In other words, it�s a cover-up, as described by Daniel
Shea, attorney for one of the plaintiffs.
Both the Vatican and
Conference of Catholic Bishops protested
that the secret church procedures in the sex abuse case were not to cover up
abuse or prevent victims from �reporting crimes to law enforcement
They claim, �The document deals with church law -- not
keeping secrets from secular authorities.� Meanwhile the pope's lawyer, Jeffrey
Lena, said it was "appropriate" the Justice Department had determined
the pope was "the sitting head of state of the Holy See."
In a telephone interview,
Lena said the motion would now be considered by the Texas court, "which
should be bound by the executive's determination" and rule accordingly.
Bottom line, �many lawsuits stemming from the U.S. church
sex abuse crisis have named the pope, the Vatican and other high-ranking church
officials, but they failed because the officials could never be served with the
papers. This case got further than most because Ratzinger was actually served
with the documents.� You can read the rest of the sordid details if you click
on the headline.
granted Holy See diplomatic immunity
Immunity and other privileges to members of the Holy See�s
Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations come from an executive
order on March 7, 2007. The order �ensures safe passage for diplomats
outside their home country. They are not subject to lawsuits or prosecution
under the laws of the host country.� So, have a ball, guys.
Actually, the Holy See does not belong to the UN, but has a
semi-diplomatic �permanent observer� status since 1964. So it can join in
General Assembly debates, �have its communications issued and circulated as
official documents of the assembly, and co-sponsor draft resolutions that refer
to the Holy See.� Not a bad deal at all.
In fact the article tells us, �Last December, in its Department of State Authorities Act of 2006,
Congress authorized the president to give the observer mission and its members
�the privileges and immunities enjoyed by the diplomatic missions of member
states to the United Nations, and their members." And then President Bush
simply signed the act into law Jan. 11, and his March 7 executive order simply
carried out what the law authorized. Simple.
A UN official
commented, �The Vatican has an interest, and we were glad to be able to
accommodate as host country for the UN.� All the little peas in a pod. One
reason might be a case that came up two years earlier against the Vatican
itself . . .
US appeals court reinstates Vatican
This case, brought up in
federal appeals count in San Francisco in April, 2005, reinstated a lawsuit
brought by Holocaust survivors, suing the Vatican Bank on charges of laundering
assets from victims of Croatia�s pro-Nazi World War II regime. The 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals decided to reverse a lower court ruling dismissing the case
�on ground that foreign policy rather than lawsuits should address such
federal court ruled that � . . . some of the claims were justifiable . . . Although
the parties have multiple procedural and substantive challenges to overcome
down the road, they are entitled to their day -- or years -- in court on the
This suit accused the
Vatican Bank of getting literally hundreds of millions of dollars of gold and
other various assets, all looted from the victims of Croatia�s �brutal Ustasha
regime from 1941-1945.� Conceivably, some 700,000 people, mostly Serbs, were
killed at death camps run by the Nazi-allied government. The plaintiffs also
alleged these stolen funds also may have been passed on to groups smuggling
Nazis out of Europe after the war, including Adolf Eichmann.
Though the Vatican
denied the allegations, the claims moved forward for 24 plaintiffs, survivors
who had been waiting more than 50 years for restitution. And so on.
In 1998, a
multi-million dollar verdict against the Roman Catholic Diocese was delivered
for sexual abuse of children, handled by the nationally known plaintiffs�
attorney, Windle Turley. If we dig beyond this and Ratzinger, we find ever
stranger material about the Vatican
Em beh (as my
grandfather Raphael used to say with his hands akimbo). What can I say? They�re
a rough-ass group, the Vatican & Partners. And Joey, he�s sitting on top of
the religious pile. Abundanza, Giuseppe. Have a nice day. Smile nice to the
people. Wave. Make-a the mass in-a Yankee Stadium. God bless. Peace on earth to
men of good will. And everybody else, well, duck!
Jerry Mazza is a free-lance writer living in New York.
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.