Since I get all my information these days from the always reliable Facebook News Service -- basically whatever links my Facebook friends, in their infinite wisdom, decide to circulate and express an opinion about -- I now know the real reason for Pope Benedict XVI's hasty and startling resignation last week. Turns out he was about to be arrested.
According to a story in the "No CBCP!" (Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines) website, which references a piece in "Addicting Info," which links to an exclusive in the "International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State" site, an unknown European country allegedly contacted the Vatican a couple of weeks back and not only issued an arrest warrant for Benedict but also made it known that it plans to arrest whoever succeeds him as pope. The charge for both men will be "crimes against humanity" and a subsequent lien will be placed on all Vatican assets. Benedict, now that he's agreed to step aside, will meet with the Italian president at the end of the week to plead for immunity from prosecution.
Needless to say, this is a 10-megaton bombshell and with sources as credible as these I expect we'll see a handcuffed Benedict being perp-walked out of the Vatican with a towel draped over his head by this time Thursday.
And I thought it was the die-hard Catholic faithful who were willing to believe any bunch of magical, wishful thinking horseshit you put in front of them.
It's true that Reuters, an entirely trustworthy outlet, is reporting that once Benedict steps down at the end of the month he'll remain a resident of the Vatican, and that this decision has the potential to keep him safely out of the hands of anyone wishing prosecute him for crimes related to the priest sex scandal the Catholic Church has been mired in for years. It's also fair to discuss whether the pope could, in theory, face charges for his role in what amounts to a global criminal conspiracy. But if you really think any country's government has already issued an arrest warrant for the once-and-future Joseph Ratzinger and that this is the reason he stepped down -- to somehow surreptitiously duck the long arm of the law -- I've got a prime piece of afterlife real estate I want to sell you.
While numerous civil suits have been filed against Vatican officials and Pope Benedict, nobody's ever had the balls to step up and criminally indict him -- and I seriously doubt that's going to change anytime soon. The pope isn't simply a head of state, he's the head of the Vatican and therefore the man in charge of the 1.2 billion people who subscribe to Catholicism, people who believe he has a personal hotline to the creator of the universe. It's going to hurt to hear this the same way it hurts to have to say it, but, yes, Pope Benedict is above the law -- at least the law as we know it. Jack McCoy on sixteen cups of coffee and at his most idealistic wouldn't go near the seat of the Catholic Church with a cattle prod. And whatever covert machinations may really have been behind Benedict's decision to abdicate the papacy, the hallowed walls of the Vatican will keep him safe and would have even if he'd chosen not to step down. The pope isn't Roman Polanski. He was never going to travel to Zurich and find that local police were there waiting for him.
There's no doubt that Joseph Ratzinger, as both cardinal and pope, directly contributed to the climate and culture that led to hundreds and hundreds of children being assaulted and victimized at the hands of some of the most evil people on the planet. But don't fool yourself: There's also no doubt that he's going to get away with it. As an organized church, they all are. May god have mercy on their black little souls.