BY MICHEAL HAYNE
Pope Benedict XIV's decision to give up being the Pope for lent and hang up the Prada and ruby slippers bewitched and bewildered many, especially considering that being the pope is kinda the religious equivalent of being a Captain in the Sopranos. Once you're in, there's no getting out.
But while the bulk of the discussion has centered around the reasons for the pope's voluntary departure, a number of critics have been floating around the possibility of the Pope being put on trial.
That the Pope met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Feb. 23 to plea for immunity against prosecution for allegations of child sex crimes combined with recent reports that Vatican will protect the Pope from sex abuse prosecution, and what you have is an almighty trial of the millennium in the making. I mean, how do you even try a pope, and does he have to remove his enormous pope hat in the courtroom?
Nonetheless, such scenarios apparently proved so prickly for the Pope that they ultimately factored into his decision to remain in the Vatican. In fact, one Vatican official informed Reuters that the pope's decision to remain within the opulent jurisprudence of the Vatican was necessary to prevent him from legal woes.
“His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless,” the source said. “He would not have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else.”
Okay, obviously the pope cannot exactly move into a 55 & over community or try to get into a nice co-op (new reality show, perhaps?).
For example, Reuters reported that three alleged factors took precedence, with the first two being seemingly sensible and without controversy. Personal security and the risk of an outside residence inadvertently becoming a place of pilgrimage to commemorate Benedict were among the first two, but the third one is the more intriguing one that has most critics up in arms. The third and final consideration was to ensure the Pope would be free from prosecution.
For some, this is obviously roughly the equivalent of a just letting President Bush, a man who's guilty of war crimes, simply spend his days staring at brush on his Texas Ranch. In fact, it seems Pope Benedict was already named in a 2010 case for allegedly failing to take action after purportedly learning about an abusive priest when he was a cardinal in 1995. Naturally, the case was ultimately withdrawn, but many others have sought similar ramifications.
Regardless, this story doesn't seem like it will be going away anytime soon.