Vatican scoffs at Dawkins idea of arresting pope while in Britain

April 13, 2010
dawkins bus

Richard Dawkins on a bus at the launch of an atheist advertising campaign in London January 6, 2009/Andrew Winning

The Vatican said on Tuesday Pope Benedict was willing to meet more sexual abuse victims but not under media pressure and scoffed at calls that the pope should be arrested when he visits Britain in September.

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.”

Read the full story here.

Also on Tuesday, police said a vandal spray-painted an abusive message overnight on the house in southern Germany in which Pope Benedict was born.  The graffiti was a text sprayed in blue on the front door of the house in Marktl am Inn, in the predominantly Catholic state of Bavaria.

Police spokesman Konrad Rutzinger said the message seemed to be linked to the abuse scandals that have engulfed the Catholic Church, but declined to give details on its content. It had been painted over since being noticed early in the day, local police said in a statement. Read the full story here.

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The arrogance of the Vatican is beyond belief.
The Catholic Church has committed and concealed grave crimes. It is clear that the concealment of child rape occurred at the highest levels of the Church, and better than an arrest of the pope would be a thorough investigation of all Vatican documents, multiple arrests and trials.

The ability, and moral imperative, to arrest the pope exists, only political considerations would stop it.

The tax-exempt status of religions must cease. It is most clearly not a benefit to the community to encourage religion. Keep the tax-exempt status of charitable work, but not religious organisations themselves.

Posted by kanga | Report as abusive

This is a clear demonstration of the enemies of the church’s ignorance of even some basic things such as the immunity from arrest of a Head of State which has a diplomatic relations of said country. If Mr. Dawkins is ignorant on this elementary principle of International Law,how much more on the legal procedures on how the church handled canonical cases such as defrocking of a predator priest without sacrificing due process! Enough is enough for these vindictive and scurrilous campaign against the Catholic Church. It’s soooo disgusting.

Posted by drosaupan | Report as abusive

Whilst we all feel the anger of what is going on in the RC church (including many RC’s), who made Dawkins and Hitchens the champions of justice? This seems more like a political stunt -no doubt however they would agree with me however.

It is unlikely to succeed however, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed policies blocking the right of political campaigners to use the courts to issue international arrest warrants. This was in response to the case of UK courts issuing an arrest warrant in 2009 for the former Israeli foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who campaigners accused of war crimes. She was planning a visit to the country but unsurprisingly cancelled her trip.

The courts, knowing that this legislation is coming will preempt it and not issue such a daft warrant. Once the legislation is passed, only the Crown Prosecution Service will be able to request courts issue these warrants, and rightly so.

I blog on religion and cultural conflict in Europe at

Posted by DanStorkBanks | Report as abusive

Nobody should be above the law particularly in a child abuse case, however is an arrest really needed? Some backbone to stand up to the church is all that is required. The church does not need protection from us but more so we seem to need protection from them. Everyone seems to bend over backwards when the Pontiff wants to visit all through the fear of fire & brimstone, even our sporting events have to move to accommodate ves-british-dressage/
Personally I think that the Pope should keep his head down and deal with the issues inhouse.

Posted by doublemadforit | Report as abusive

God bless St Peter and God bless the Pope!

Spewing at the mouth, stupid, stupid people… This hysteria and vicious, ignorant, hatred of the church and God, has to stop!

99.6% of priests, over the last 40 yrs, have never had any allegation made against them. Every time you read that the 2001 document from the Holy See imposed a duty on bishops to keep these things secret and hidden from public authorities, know that this is simply untrue. There is nothing in that document to deter or hinder a bishop or a victim from reporting cases to the police. Since this time the HOly See has called for greater vigilance and scrutiny, bishops urged to take action… IT IS THE SAFEST PLACE FOR KIDS ON EARTH – THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

The vast majority of allegations are malicious, they include for example ‘abuse’ of school children by priests who caned them or slapped them, when being disciplined at school, days when corporal punishment and DISCIPLINE was considered a neccessary thing. VERY VERY LATE whingers, why now? Usually because they hate GOD and seek to be bleeding hearts and pathetic victims who have become brain washed by the liberal left! Society, improved since becoming more liberal? Take a good look around you Hitchins, I would not have your world if you flogged me and fed me to the lions.

Perhaps we should arrest the likes of Hitchins for sodomy, many consider this almost as perverted as child abuse. Least ways, he appears to many a total hypocrite in some respects. It is these peoples’ aggressive campaigning, aimed at destroying any moral framework to society, as some kind of brainwashing, that is creating the perfect atmosphere for child abuse and perversions of all kinds.

With absolutely no barriers to dubious sexual practises and relationships, a break down in traditional morality, how much child abuse is there in the English church, probably a great deal more than the RC.

Posted by Durathror | Report as abusive