Groups such as Protest the Pope, and other extreme secularists, are trying to paint Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church in the worst possible light through the use of exaggeration, the partisan presentation of half-truths and selective quotations taken out of context.
One of the purposes of Protect the Pope.com is to try to set the record straight.
Peter Tatchel & Protest the Pope accuse Pope Benedict XVI of the following so called ‘crimes’. Protect the Pope has begun to refute each one of them:
Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS
- Dr. Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, told National Review Online last week that despite AIDS activists and media outlets pounding the pope for downplaying the effectiveness of condoms, the science actually supports the Catholic leader’s claim. ”The pope is correct,” Green told NRO, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments.”
- “There is,” Green added, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”
- Whiteside (University of KwaZulu-Nataland) Parkhurst (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) partially attribute the low rate of HIV prevalence in predominantly Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia to the ban on sex during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan. (Other contributing factors to this low prevalence rate are the practice of universal male circumcision and strict teachings on alcohol use, homosexuality and extra-marital sex.)
- The Catholic Church provides 27% of the healthcare worldwide for people suffering from HIV/AIDS, making no distinction between Catholics and non-Catholics.
Promoting segregated education
- The UN Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Art 26,3) & ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.’ (art.18).
- ‘You can be proud of the contribution made by Scotland’s Catholic schools in overcoming sectarianism and building good relations between communities. Faith schools are a powerful force for social cohesion, and when the occasion arises, you do well to underline this point. (Pope Benedict’s Address to Scottish Bishops, 2010)’.
Denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women
- The Second Vatican Council document, The Church in the Modern World states , ‘To these problems there are those who presume to offer dishonorable solutions indeed; they do not recoil even from the taking of life. But the Church issues the reminder that a true contradiction cannot exist between the divine laws pertaining to the transmission of life and those pertaining to authentic conjugal love.
- God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.
- They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator. (Gaudium et Spes, 51, 27)
Opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people
- ‘The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358).
Failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.
- Pope Benedict on child sexual abuse in the Church: ‘On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them. Earlier in my pontificate, (2006) in my concern to address this matter, I asked the bishops of Ireland, “to establish the truth of what happened in the past to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes”. (Pope Benedict’s letter to the Irish, 2010).
- A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Dr. Thomas Plante of Stanford University and Santa Clara University states that “available research suggests that approximately 2% to 5% of priests have had a sexual experience with a minor” which “is lower than the general adult male population that is best estimated to be closer to 8%”.
- Based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. “We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,” said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others.” (Newsweek. April 2010).
Rehabilitating the holocaust denier bishop Richard Williamson and the appeaser of Hitler, the war-time Pope, Pius XII.
- Pope Benedict XVI has told American Jewish leaders that any denial of the Holocaust is “intolerable”, especially if it comes from a clergyman. “The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah (Holocaust) was a crime against humanity. “This should be clear to everyone, especially to those standing in the tradition of the Holy Scriptures…” (BBC report 12 February 2009)
- During the war, the New York Times called Pius XII “the only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all…the Pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism…he left no doubt that the Nazi aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christmas peace.” (Christmas 1941).
- New research has found that Pope Pius XII may have arranged the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany just three weeks after Kristallnacht, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
- The research is being carried out by Dr. Michael Hesemann, a German historian who is combing through the Vatican archives for the Pave the Way Foundation, a U.S.-based interfaith group. (Haaretz, 7/7/10).
- On the day of Pius XII’s death in 1958, Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, cabled the following message of condolence to the Vatican: “We share in the grief of humanity…When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims.” (Wikipedia).
- As early as December of 1940, in an article published in Time magazine, the renowned Nobel Prize winning physicist Albert Einstein, himself a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, paid tribute to the moral “courage” of Pope Pius and the Catholic Church in opposing “the Hitlerian onslaught” on liberty.
- Sir Martin Gilbert described as “a British historian and the world’s leading expert on the Holocaust”, is quoted as saying that the Pope should be considered as a “Righteous Gentile” by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust remembrance authority.
- In his classic study, Three Popes and the Jews, Israeli historian and diplomat Pinchas Lapide, concluded that Pope Pius XII ‘was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands’.
A WORLD-WIDE CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY ?
(A review of Vatican documents relating to the investigation of complaints of child abuse)
BY: Neil Addison, Barrister at Law, National Director Thomas More Legal Centre http://www.thomasmorelegal.org.uk/
1. It has been suggested in various Newspaper Articles,(1) Media interviews, Blogs (2) etc that documents revealed during the Catholic Church child abuse scandal have implicated the Church in general and Pope Benedict in particular in a criminal conspiracy to facilitate child abuse or alternatively to obstruct justice by failing to report allegations of child abuse to public authorities.
2. In looking at these allegations I shall principally rely on broad legal principles drawing on examples within English Common or statute law and international law. Though every country has its own particular laws and legal system and the details differ from country to country it is the case that legal broad principles are generally the same across civilised legal systems. In addition by definition if something done by the Church could be held to constitute a crime within one country only by reason of the specific wording of the law of that country then by definition it can hardly constitute an international criminal conspiracy spread across several countries.
3. The Church Documents I shall deal with are “Crimen Solicitonis”(3) issued to all Bishops of the Church in 1962 and “De Delictis Gravioribus” (4) also issued to all Bishops of the Church in 2001 and signed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger; this document was accompanied by a covering letter Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (5) signed by Pope John Paul II. I shall refer to these documents as the “1962 letter” and the “2001 letter”. As a side point I note that the 2001 letter was published in the 2001 issue of the Vatican Year Book Acta Apostolicae Sedis for 2001 (6) which is a document that has always been publicly available and not secret, and the 2001 letter specifically refers to the 1961 letter.
4. In English Statute Law the crime of conspiracy requires two or more persons to agree to carry out a course of conduct which “will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of any offence” (7) whilst the Common Law definition of conspiracy accepted by the US Supreme Court involves “an agreement to commit an unlawful act” (8) and the Canadian Criminal Code requires “an intention in common to carry out an unlawful purpose” (9).
5. In his Guardian Article suggesting that the Pope should be arrested when he visits Britain Geoffrey Robinson QC accused the Pope and the Church of “aiding and abetting sex with minors.”. Under English Law “aiding and abetting” requires the accused person to perform “an act capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence” either “intending” or “believing” that the act will “encourage or assist its commission” (10) similar provisions apply in the criminal laws of Canada Australia and the USA.
6. Therefore in order to have the basis for a criminal prosecution either of conspiracy or aiding and abetting it is necessary to prove that the defendant (in this case the Pope and/or other Church officials) did acts (actus reus) which helped sex offenders to commit their crimes and/or to evade justice and that the intention (mens rea) of the Church was to assist in the commission of those crimes or the evasion of justice. In order for there to be a conviction for criminal conspiracy or aiding and abetting, under English law,there must be a deliberate intention that a crime should be committed (11) and my reading of the law in USA Australia and Canada is that the rules are the same in those jurisdictions.
7. The importance of intention to assist in a breaking of the law (mens rea) was emphasised in the House of Lords case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority (12) where the House of Lords held that supplying contraceptive advise to under 16 year old girls did not constitute the criminal offence of aiding and abetting unlawful sexual intercourse even though (from a lay point of view) that would be the natural and inevitable consequence of the doctors actions
8. Therefore in order to prosecute the Pope or the Church on the basis of the 1962 or 2001 letters it is necessary to show that the intention behind the letters was to assist crime and careful reading of both letters show that they were in fact mainly aimed at dealing with acts which were not criminal
1962 & 2001 LETTERS
9. When examining the two letters it is important to bear in mind that they apply to the Church throughout the world and as such attempts to apply consistent internal Church rules to countries with a range of different legal rules and cultures. In the 2001 letter for example the age of a minor is set as up to 18 whilst across the world the legal age of consent for sexual intercourse can range from 13 in Spain or Nigeria to 18 in Swaziland or Idaho (13) ; similarly whilst consensual homosexual sex between adults is legal in most countries it is still illegal in many countries and indeed was illegal in England until 1967
10. More importantly the two letters only deal with the internal procedures to be adopted by the Church in deciding whether a Priest accused of acts (which might or might not be criminal in the country in which they occur) should be disciplined by the Church and possibly removed from the priesthood. Nowhere in the letters is there any instruction that the civil authorities (Police) should not be told about allegations of criminal behaviour.
11. There is, of course, the criticism that neither letter gives direct and clear instructions that the civil authorities must be informed however that ignores the fact, already mentioned, that many allegations may be criminal in one jurisdiction but not criminal in another and many of the acts mentioned in the 1962 and 2001 letters are not criminal in any jurisdiction. For example a Priest who has sex with a 14 year old girl in Spain does not commit a crime but would in England, a Priest who has an adulterous heterosexual relationship would not commit a crime in England but would commit a crime in Iran which could lead to him and the woman being stoned to death, similarly with homosexual behaviour by a Priest. All of those would be regarded by the Church as offences contrary to the two letters but would be regarded in entirely different lights by law enforcement officials in different countries.
12. It is also important to remember that the 1962 letter was issued in 1962, when consensual interacial sex was illegal in much of the United States as well as in South Africa and when Communism ruled much of the world and a person who attended Church could lose their job if the authorities became aware. 1962 was only 4 years before the start of the Cultural Revolution in China when Churches were attacked and Priests killed, only 6 years after the crushing of the Hungarian uprising and 6 years before the crushing of the Prague Spring. In those circumstances it is hardly surprising if Church instructions did not require that all State authorities be automatically informed of any allegations made against a priest.
13. In addition it should be remembered that the 1962 letter was a reissue of an earlier letter issued in 1922 and that year must also be seen in its historical context. The Bolsheviks had just finalised their grip on power and persecution of the Church and Church authorities was intense. In Mexico Anti-clerical violence and state sanctioned murder of priests was beginning (14) and China was in chaos being ruled either by Warlords or Japanese occupation. Once again it is unrealistic to expect that an instruction to the Church throughout the world would give instructions that in every country the civil authorities should automatically be informed that a criminal allegation had been made. After all how does a Bishop report a crime to the Police when being a Bishop is itself a crime ?
14. Though the main attention on the 1962 letter has concentrated on the issue of Child Abuse any suggestion that it is intended to assist in a conspiracy of child abuse has to take account of the fact that the 1962 letter primarily deals with “Solicitation in the Confessional” which would not constitute a criminal offence in most legal systems. The letter then mentions in para 71 Homosexual relationships, and deals in para 73 with sexual relationships with minors or with animals and applies the same rules to those offences as it has applied to the (non criminal) practice of solicitation in the confessional.
15. Therefore if the 1962 letter is to be regarded as evidence of a criminal conspiracy that is inconsistent with the fact that its primary focus is on an activity which is not criminal because if the primary focus is on an activity which (though reprehensible) is legal then there is no evidence that the intention of the document or the drafters of the document was to aid unlawful acts.
16. This particular analysis is strengthened by the 2001 letter which besides the offences listed in the 1962 letter also deals with such non-criminal acts as “the taking or retaining for a sacrilegious purpose, or the throwing away of the consecrated species (Host)” (Art 2 1.1 “consecration for a sacrilegious purpose of one matter (ie bread or wine) without the other in a Eucharistic celebration “ Art 2.2. In simple terms it is impossible to establish a case of criminal conspiracy based on a document which is primarily focused on dealing with acts which are not in themselves criminal.
17. An important part of the allegations involving the 1962 and 2001 letters involve the “oath of Secrecy” required of those who give evidence or participate in one of the Churches own Courts dealing with allegations against a Priest. As a lawyer in the Anglo Saxon Common Law tradition I can understand that criticism however once again it is important to remember that both letters apply throughout the world and therefore to countries with vastly different legal traditions. In Portugal for example Article 86 of the Portuguese penal code imposes “Judicial Secrecy” on all witnesses in a criminal investigation, a legal rule which seemed incomprehensible to the British Media during the Madeleine McCann case (15)
18. Similarly in England prior to a trial there are extensive legal restrictions on what the media can report but no such restrictions apply in the United States
19. More pertinently perhaps it must be remembered that in general Church Tribunals have no legal standing within their individual countries and without a promise of secrecy it may be difficult if not impossible for them to operate. If, for example, a Priest was facing an allegation of sexual abuse which, for whatever reason, was not being prosecuted in the state courts then witnesses who gave evidence could potentially be sued by him for slander or, in some countries, possibly even prosecuted for criminal libel (16) . In other jurisdictions the party making the complaint could possibly face execution (if the allegation related to an adulterous or homosexual relationship) or social ostracism. Requiring an oath of secrecy can therefore be justified as providing both witnesses and also the accused with some protection for their reputation and, in some countries, their personal safety.
20. In England Police Disciplinary Tribunals sit in secret (17) . In April 2010 it was discovered that 12 years previously a Police Constable had been convicted of assaulting a suspect but had not been dismissed, he subsequently went on to seriously assault a 19 year old female suspect (18) . Though there was criticism of the Police there was no suggestion that the decision by the (secret) Disciplinary Tribunal was in any way illegal
21. Church authorities in individual countries can be criticised for responding inadequately to allegations of child abuse and those situations have to be dealt with country by country but the main allegation being made against the Church and the Pope is an allegation of criminal conduct and that allegation is not justified by any proper analysis of the facts, the evidence or the law.
(2) http://religionlaw.blogspot.com/2010/04/put-pope-in-dock.html (My response to Robinson Article)
(6) http://www.vatican.va/archive/aas/index_en.htm http://www.vatican.va/archive/aas/documents/AAS%2093%20%5B2001%5D%20-%20ocr.pdf
(7) Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977
(8) Iannelli v. United States, 420 U.S. 770, 777 (1975), United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10 (1994)
(9)S21 Canadian Criminal Code
(10) ss44-46 Serious Crime Act 2007
(11)Callow v Tillstone (1900) 83 LT 411
(12) AC 112
(14) As detailed in the Graham Green Novel “The Power and the Glory”
(15) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_McCann http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/may/08/ukcrime.madeleinemccann
(16) Only abolished in England in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s73
(17) Reg 32 The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008
For more information about the Thomas More Legal Centre:
Detailed rebuttals of accusations against Pope Benedict:
?Pope Benedict is responsible for millions of deaths from HIV/AIDs due to his opposition to the use of condoms?
Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church consider the HIV/AIDs pandemic to be one of the major health crises of the world. It’s a little known fact that the Catholic Church provides 27 % of the healthcare worldwide for people suffering from HIV/AIDs, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
One of the false assumptions opponents of Pope Benedict make is that Catholics who reject chastity and fidelity in marriage and engage in promiscuous sex would at the same time observe the Pope’s ban on the use of condoms! By rejecting chastity and fidelity in marriage they are already ignoring one of the most basic beliefs of Christianity so its unlikely that they would have moral reservations about using a condom.
Also the assertion that the Catholic Church’s advice against the use of condoms has stopped governments from allowing the distribution of condoms is frankly unbelievable. After all, foreign aid from the EU and USA often involves acceptance of so called ‘reproductive rights’ by the recipient country.
Pope Benedict can only invite and encourage people to follow the moral teachings of the Church, he has no political or legal authority to enforce them, nor would he seek these powers, because ultimately its up to the choice of individuals to accept or reject them.
Pope Benedict holds that the best means of preventing the transmission of HIV is the double strategy of chastity and fidelity in marriage and the eradication of poverty in the world.
Chastity and fidelity in marriage
Chastity is not such an alien concept as some people would like to suggest – we all practice self-control, to varying degrees, regarding our sexual responses. Chastity is just another word for self-mastery. Human beings do not behave like animals in that we can control our responses to instincts.
The Church holds that God intends sexual love solely for marriage between men and women because only in the heterosexual union of husband and wife can their union be one of deep, personal union, indissolubility, faithfulness and openness to the conception of human life. These conditions are necessary for the total, free, and loving gift of self that is one of the purposes of sexual love. The other, intrinsic, purpose is obviously the procreation of children.
This is the truth the Catholic Church upholds. It’s up to you to accept it or reject it. You’re free to choose.
Why does Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church oppose condoms? For two reasons: condoms violate the dignity of sexual love, wearing a sheath of latex saturated in spermicide is far from natural, and the availability and use of condoms encourages promiscuous, risk-taking behaviour that can damage the psychological, physical and moral well-being of individuals.
This is the truth the Catholic Church upholds. It’s up to you to accept it or reject it. You’re free to choose.
Poverty and social justice
Finally, Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church hold that poverty creates the environment that encourages sexual promiscuity, and the transmission of sexual diseases. This is based on centuries of work among the poorest and most deprived people. If the developed world is truly serious about wanting to stop the HIV/AIDs pandemic it would seriously tackle the wealth and resources disparity between rich and poor countries. Condoms will never stop the HIV/AIDs pandemic.