International Justice: Arrest the Pope (and a short blurb about conspiracy theories and holocaust ‘revisionists’)

Recently I’ve started reading a book of ethical philosophy by John Rawls titled A Theory of Justice. I first came upon Rawls in my bioethics class, where we read from some of A Theory of Justice, and also an article extending Rawls’ arguments to health care. This book, and some other more political books I’ve been reading (for example, A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn), have made me think more and more about social justice. I mention this merely as a segueway for my main topic for this article: the recent call (from Richard Dawkins and international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson) to have the pope arrested for international crimes against humanity when he visits Britain in a few days.

Here’s an article by Macleans that talks about the matter: clicky, and some excerpts from the article that I found shocking or of interest:

So many cases emerged that the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference commissioned an expert study, which concluded in 2004 that, since 1950, 10,667 individuals had made plausible allegations against 4,392 priests, 4.3 per cent of the entire body of clergy in that period

The Church dealt with its offenders in secret via a parallel system of justice, its own canon law, as overseen by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, itself overseen by cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from 1981 until he became Pope Benedict in 2005. Insofar, that is, that the Church dealt with them at all. Penalties, in comparison with secular law, were negligible, ranging from spiritual exercises (extra prayers mainly) to the canon law’s ultimate “degradation”: being returned to the lay state.

The archbishop of Dublin, faced with 46 cases of known pedophile priests, reported none to the police, and instead dispatched them to new parishes in full awareness of the risk to children—an awareness made plain by the 1987 purchase of insurance policies to cover future claims.

In 1993 the bishop of Pembroke in Ontario wrote the papal nuncio—the Vatican’s ambassador to Canada—about his willingness to see a child molester’s quiet removal to Rome. Some of his victims were starting to talk; luckily, they were “of Polish descent and their respect for the priesthood and the Church has made them refrain from laying charges.” … Church authorities managed to keep their devout Poles quiet until 2005, when police were finally informed. Thee years later, [the bishop], then 74, was found guilty of molesting 13 boys. He was defrocked in 2009, 15 years after the Vatican first learned of his crimes.

An article by Hitchens at the National Post, found here, has some more to add:

…the recent disclosures of the putrid state of the church in Belgium have thrown the whole scandal into an even sharper relief. Consider: The now-resigned bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, stands revealed by his own eventual confession as being guilty of incest as well as rape, having regularly “abused” his male nephew between the ages of five and 18. The man’s superior as head of the Belgian church, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has been caught on tape urging the victim to keep quiet. A subsequent official report, commissioned by the country’s secular authorities, has established that this level of morality was the rule throughout the hierarchy, with the Church taking it upon itself to “forgive” the rapists and to lean upon their victims.

Very belatedly, a few months ago, the Belgian police finally rose from their notorious torpor and raided some ecclesiastical offices in search of evidence that was being concealed. Joseph Ratzinger, who had not thus far found a voice in which to mention the doings of his Belgian underlings, promptly emitted a squeal of protest — at the intervention of the law.

Robertson’s brief begins with a meticulous summary of the systematic fashion in which child-rape was covered up by collusion between local Catholic authorities and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, an office that under the last pope was run by Ratzinger himself. (So flagrant was this obstruction of justice that many senior Catholic apologists have now started to blame the deceased pontiff in an effort to excuse his deputy and successor, all the while continuing to put forward Pope John Paul II as a candidate for sainthood!)

That article also brought my attention to the book by Geoffrey Robertson, titled The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, which I’d like to read, but won’t be released in Canada till Oct 12.

In a review of that book at (?), I found some more info:

in 2001, Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux was congratulated by Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, with the approval of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, for not informing the police about a paedophile priest, and for moving him to other parish work, away from temptation.

[Geoffrey] quotes the leading commentary on canon law as arguing that “a non-penal pastoral approach may lead an offender to a fuller life in Christ more effectively than penalties”. The rationale of the law is to avoid both the judgment of national courts and the punishment that is normally handed out to child abusers in civilised countries. Because all sex is banned to priests, abuse of minors is lumped in with – and is apparently seen as less serious than – “living in concubinage”. The stress on salvation means that “punishment” is a matter of prayers, fasting, a retreat or community service: typically, offending priests are moved to other parishes – but rarely to posts where contact with children is unlikely. The result, very often, is more molesting.

A short doc was released on BBC yesterday titled “The Trouble with the Pope” which outlines how ludicrous and dangerous the popes ideas are (not just on how to deal with child rape). I can’t seem to access any of the online streaming videos here in Canada, but found a torrent on

I don’t have much to comment on the matter, other than to direct people’s attention to it.

Finally, on a different topic (note: I’m not trying to connect the above with the below)…

When I was watching the doc, it mentioned that the current pope lifted the excommunication of a priest who has publicly said some things which people view as holocaust denial. This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend this last weekend. I was talking about how ludicrous it is for someone to believe that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’ if they fairly balanced the evidence, and she replied with ” I know, it’s like when people deny the holocaust.” It occurred to me at that moment that I knew next to nothing about the evidence for or against the holocaust.

So then I looked that up. Obviously I started with “Holocaust Denial” on wikipedia, which brought my attention to the fact that holocaust deniers don’t call themselves holocaust deniers, but historical revisionists, or something. The three main claims that they make is that:

  1. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party never had a conspiracy to kill all of the Jews
  2. That 6 million Jews didn’t die in concentration camps, the actual figure being something like 300,000, and that they died from poor sanitation, starvation, etc.
  3. That no gas chambers ever existed (except for killing lice)

On the wiki site, it directed me to a quote by Michael Shermer (the editor of Skeptics magazine), which details the kinds of evidence for the Holocaust happening as current historians believe it happened:

  1. Written documents—hundreds of thousands of letters, memos, blueprints, orders, bills, speeches, articles, memoirs, and confessions.
  2. Eyewitness testimony—accounts from survivors, Jewish Sonderkommandos (who were forced to help load bodies from the gas chambers into the crematoria in exchange for the promise of survival), SS guards, commandants, local townspeople, and even high-ranking Nazis who spoke openly about the mass murder of the Jews.
  3. Photographs—including official military and press photographs, civilian photographs, secret photographs taken by survivors, aerial photographs, German and Allied film footage, unofficial photographs taken by the German military.
  4. The camps themselves—concentration camps, work camps, and extermination camps that still exist in varying degrees of originality and reconstruction.
  5. Inferential evidence—population demographics, reconstructed from the pre-World War II era; if six million Jews were not killed, what happened to them all?

I looked at the source for this, found it was from a book “Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?”, but in looking for this information came upon some “revisionist” articles.

The one I couldn’t get through, cause it was long and I didn’t have the motivation, is a rebuttal against Shermer’s book. The other is one I found from the rebuttal, about a debate that took place between Shermer and editor of the Journal of Historical Review (note: that journal was not peer reviewed) Mark Weber (yes, that is my Dad’s name…note: no relation). The article is written by the Institue for Historical Review. Anyways, it doesn’t say much about what Shermer said, but highlights the points made by Weber. If you’re interested in what Holocaust Deniers believe, I suggest reading the article.

Anyways, read wikipedia’s article on Criticisms of Holocaust Denial. At least now I can say I’ve looked at both sides (I’m not saying I made a full enquiry into the matter, but the evidence seems pretty clearly on the side of the following:

  1. The Nazis wanted to kill the jews
  2. >5,000,000 jews died in the holocaust
  3. They were killed in gas chambers (as well as other means)

About dontdontoperate

28 year old originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. H.B.Sc. from UofT with a major in chemistry and a double minor in philosophy and math. M.Sc. from UofT in physiology and neuroscience. Finished my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at McMaster in the fall of 2013.
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10 Responses to International Justice: Arrest the Pope (and a short blurb about conspiracy theories and holocaust ‘revisionists’)

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