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troubleinharlem's avatar

Can the Pope be arrested?

Asked by troubleinharlem (7966 points ) April 13th, 2010

First of all, I am not bashing the Catholic religion or church or beliefs or anything like that. I also am not Catholic so I just know general knowledge and such.

I was reading an article that I saw randomly at The Week, which I know nothing about, so I don’t know how accurate or biased it is or anything.

By the way, I was reading the comments and apparently Dawkins didn’t say the things that this article said he did… but that’s according to this.

Anyway… could anyone, or these people, technically arrest the Pope?

Keep in mind that he:

1) was aware that children were being molested
2) he knew who was responsible
3) he decided to protect the priest(s) instead of the victims
4) the pope is not infallible… as far as I know.

Okay go.

Remember: No freaking out allowed, okay? It’s a question.

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38 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

If anyone, it should be other Christians that arrest him.

marinelife's avatar

As a practical matter, no. He has the Swiss guards around him at all times.

grumpyfish's avatar

It’s pretty common in history for the pope to be deposed, imprisoned, etc. for all kinds of things.

I think in our modern law-liking society, he might get a hearing at The Hague, but I don’t see it happening.

lilikoi's avatar

Can atheists arrest the Pope? No more than I can arrest you, I’d imagine.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@grumpyfish – The Hague sounds like a death sentence – but I just looked it up and it’s just a court.

@lilikoi – ... Wait, that doesn’t make sense.

ucme's avatar

Can a cross eyed cowboy hit a cows arse with a banjo? Who knows, although I suspect in your case as well as mine the answer may be in the affirmative.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Religions/civilians don’t have police powers. Police do.

grumpyfish's avatar

If you could find a jurisdiction that (1) A crime was committed that Joseph Ratzinger was an accomplice to, and (2) you could get a judge to issue an arrest warrant for it, and (3) the Pope showed up there, and where (4) the Pope doesn’t have diplomatic immunity, then you could probably arrest him.

Just checked—Pope is head of state, at least in the US that gives him automatic diplomatic immunity.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy – Yeah… I realized that, so I changed the question! xD

troubleinharlem's avatar

@grumpyfish – isn’t harboring information a crime? Just for clarification and all.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well of course he can be arrested, he is just a person but not without cause.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir : Is this whole scandal a legitimate cause, or would it have to be something else?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Ah dang now my answer is out of context.

Ok now it’s “is the pope responsible”.
If he was knowingly enabling child molesters under his watch, I think he bears some responsibility.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy : Haha, yeah… sorry about that.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Well, if I was guilty of numbers one, two, and three I’m pretty sure I’d be arrested with all due haste but then I’m not a head of state. Being that he is recognized as such he maintains diplomatic immunity. Now if that were to go away… well, then whichever nation would be so bold would have to contend with all the angry catholics (read: voters/taxpayers/political supports) that would likely threaten many things not a few of which, I’m sure, would be quite against biblical teachings.

So, no he can’t be arrested, at least not by any country that recognizes his diplomatic immunity and even then I doubt too many political bodies would have the guts to do it.

Should he be? If allegations can be proven, of course.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

It’s highly unlikely.

Even Pablo Escobar, at the height of his drug trafficking days in 1982, was elected as an “alternate” representative to El Congreso of Colombia from his district. This gave him diplomatic immunity when he traveled.

He even visited the White House (I don’t think he posed with Reagan) ... and US law enforcement could do nothing about it.

The Pope has the same diplomatic immunity; it would take highly unusual circumstances to break that. (And since fucking little boys in the Catholic Church is ‘business as usual’, that’s not going to qualify.)

MrItty's avatar

The Pope is not just the head of the Catholic Church. He’s also the head of state of the nation known as “Vatican City”. Yes, the Vatican is wholly within Rome, but it’s also it’s own separate and independent country.

So a couple questions spring to mind:
* Do the countries that would want to arrest him have an extradition treaty with Vatican City?
* Does that extradition treaty include the head of state?
* Would those countries respect the practice of religious sanctuary, by which those accused of crime can be given safe haven in a religious building?

I find it unlikely you’d be able to find any authority that would meet the necessary criteria. I could be wrong, I have no facts to back it up. But it’s my guess.

talljasperman's avatar

I thought the holy See was its own country

Cartman's avatar

@lilikoi can a christian judge sentence an atheist thief?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Not by anyone outside the Vatican. As the head of state of the Vatican he has diplomatic immunity. He can only be arrested if he signs off on the extradition.

slick44's avatar

He should be releived of his duties. in other words replaced.

ragingloli's avatar

He can be assassinated.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @MrItty. & @WestRiverrat . I believe he would have diplomatic immunity.
Vatican City is like its own little country.
It would be like arresting a ruler who has knowledge of crimes. We can no sooner arrest the Pope than we can arrest any ruler. The church can be sued and I believe it has been done.
No diplomat would ever want that little benefit to go away. They would be afraid to leave their borders. So they won’t dare to chase someone down at the risk of making it open season on all diplomats in the future.

YARNLADY's avatar

In the past, a Pope that was suspected of committing crimes was often poisoned.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

I’m not a Catholic, nor am I even a believer, but since the Pope is technically, a head of state, the only way he can legally be arrested or detained is with the cooperation and support of other similarly-thinking nation-states and since the Vatican is recognized as a legitimate nation with all the assumed privileges and rights, such an arrest could and probably would be construed as an act of war. Given those facts, I would still like to see him answer for and tale responsibility for his failings.

Ria777's avatar

go on there and arrest everyone except him. now the Pope wanders around the deserted Vatican mumbling to himself and eating canned beans until in a confused state, while surrounded by stray cats he has appointed his archbishops.

anartist's avatar

@YARNLADY and popes who weren’t—like John Paul!

@Ria777 Hollywood needs you!

Ria777's avatar

it sure does.

Maximillian's avatar

As far as I have researched, the Holy See, although not a member-state to the United Nations, it is a Permanent Observer. They are allowed to debate, draft resolutions, etc, but I don’t believe vote. By being an Observer, the pope has diplomatic immunity as a recognized head of state. So, no, he can not be arrested. And I don’t believe that the plaintiffs have enough to arrest him anyways.
@slick44 He’d have to die for that to happen.
@Ria777 That would require an invasion of a country. War, in other words. And that would upset the United Nations.

Ron_C's avatar

The pope has his own country and therefore is above arrest unless he commits an international crime and he becomes subject to the world court. If poor leadership was a crime, the majority of world leaders would be on the run.

phillis's avatar

Perhaps it would be possible…..if we appeal to a higher power. Just sayin’........

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I just thought of something: assassinating the pope would not solve anything – people who believe in him would go bat-shit and commit more crime.

phillis's avatar

Assassinate? That’s MY line. Hehehe :)

Maximillian's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That’s sort of true. But it really wouldn’t do anything, because within a few weeks there’d be a new pontiff.

slick44's avatar

@Maximillian ,... Really, I dont think so. I thought they were already talking about releiving him, because they said he new what was going on. But i could be wrong. in any case I think the church should ask him to step down.

Maximillian's avatar

@slick44 You can’t really remove him from office like the President. The Catholic Church believes the pope is selected by the Holy Spirit through the Conclave of the College of Cardinals. I mean, in the Medieval times they did that, but the pope’s influence was also a lot bigger. So, yeah.

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