A letter by the Secretary of the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State alleges Pope Benedict XVI is asking the Italian government to grant him protection and immunity from legal prosecution.
On Thursday, the ITCCS issued a statement saying the Pope has requested to meet with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on February 23rd. The Vatican Information Service has confirmed that the Pope is scheduled to meet with Napolitano on the 23rd.
The ITCCS claims the Pope sought the meeting to ask for immunity from prosecution by the
Letter from Rev. Kevin D. Annett to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano
Italian government. In a letter to Napolitano, ITCCS Secretary, Rev. Kevin Annett, says:
"I need not remind you, Mr. President, that under international law and treaties that have been ratified by Italy, you and your government are forbidden from granting such protection to those like Joseph Ratzinger [real name of Pope Benedict XVI] who have aided and abetted criminal actions, such as ordering Bishops and Cardinals in America and elsewhere to protect known child rapists among their clergy.
Your obligation to the Vatican through the Lateran Treaty does not negate or nullify the requirements of these higher moral and international laws; nor does it require that you give any protection or immunity to a single individual like Joseph Ratzinger, especially after he has left his papal office."
The letter goes on to point to "documented" crimes of child trafficking and torture, alleging that the crimes are linked to the Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials.
On Monday, Digital Journal reported Pope Benedict XVI had announced he would resign on February 28. In his announcement, the Pope stated:
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."
The sudden resignation has led to conspiracy theories, with some saying it is related to the Pope's confidential papers that were stolen by the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele. At the time of Gabriele's trial, it was alleged that the papers revealed financial corruption within the Vatican. Others allege the resignation is due to a sex scandal which will soon be revealed. The Vatican continues to say that the resignation is due to the Pope's "advancing age". A statement issued by International Tribunal into Crime of Church and State (ITCCS) may point towards a pending scandal however.
On November 25, 1981, Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As such, Ratzinger was in charge of investigations into the crimes which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious of all, including crimes against the sixth Commandment ("thou shall not commit adultery") committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen. A Guardian report also refers to the fact Pope John Paul II appointed Ratzinger to oversee the sex scandals that were erupting in the United States and Ireland. The report quotes Jakob Purkarthofer, of Austria's Platform for Victims of Church Violence, as saying:
"Ratzinger was part of the system and is co-responsible for these crimes. He should have come clean about the abuses."
According to a Los Angeles Times report, while Ratzinger was in charge of overseeing all investigations into sexual abuse allegations, memos written by Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry between 1986-1987 showed a "concerted effort...to shield abusers from police." It is alleged that Ratzinger was aware of these memos.
In 2001, a letter written by Ratzinger clarified the confidentiality of internal church investigations into accusations of sexual abuse by priests. The Bishops Accountability organization states that Ratzinger ordered bishops worldwide to maintain absolute secrecy about priest pedophilia and to simply transfer them from one parish to another.
In 2010, Ratzinger, who was then Pope Benedict, was named as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging he was aware of a priest in the United States who had sexually abused boys.
When the lawyers for the plaintiff withdrew the case, the Vatican issued a statement saying it was a "major victory", proving the Pope could not be held liable.
In what some claim is proof the Pope was involved in sex scandal cover-ups and is attempting to avoid prosecution, a Vatican official has stated Pope Benedict has decided to continue to live at the Vatican after his resignation goes in effect. The source told Yahoo! News:
"His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn't have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else. It is absolutely necessary [he stays in the Vatican so he can have] a dignified existence."
It is unclear why Pope Benedict would consider asking for immunity, if that is indeed his plan. Some speculate it is because it would give him the freedom to leave Vatican City, saying otherwise he would essentially be a prisoner. It is equally unclear whether President Napolitano would consider granting immunity. What is clear is that these latest allegations adds fuel to the conspiracy theories, as well as calling into the question the real reason why Pope Benedict decided to resign.