Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Catholic church is not sovereign Vatican territory

Catholic church is not sovereign Vatican territory
3:00 PM Mon, Jun 28, 2010 | Permalink
Tod Robberson / Editorial Writer Dallas News

Pope Benedict XVI deplored the raid by Belgian policy on Catholic church property over the weekend, claiming that such property is autonomous and somehow excluded from normal law enforcement. "On several occasions, I have personally reiterated that such serious issues should be attended to by both civil and canon law, with respect for reciprocal specificity and autonomy," the pope said.

The idea of reciprocity is normally reserved for inter-governmental relations. If my government agrees to honor your country's passport, you reciprocate by honoring mine. But the church is not the Vatican, and the church is not some kind of consular outpost of the Vatican. The church has failed miserably to investigate and hand over evidence relating to its many sexual abuse scandals around the world. The Belgian police finally declared that they had had enough and raided church facilities to get the material they felt the church was holding back.

The pope would apparently prefer we rely on the church's better judgment and its ability to ferret out and punish wrongdoing. But the church's consistent failure to come clean is what prompted the Belgian action. The Vatican also lost an important Supreme Court decision today in its claim for sovereign immunity after it was challenged to hand over documents in an Oregon sexual abuse case. The Vatican made the ludicrous claim that priests are employees of the Vatican and therefore must be granted sovereign immunity.

Right.

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