Leading atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are working to have Pope Benedict XVI arrested for his alleged role in the cover-up of the priest sex abuse scandal. They have hired two attorneys in England to work on the case.
According to a report in London's The Sunday Times, the two high-profile writers are hoping to spring the arrest when the Pontiff visits Britain in September. They may actually have precedent on their side. They hope to employ the same legal principles used when former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested when he visited England in 1998.
Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because he is not the head of a state recognized by the United Nations. His trip is, however, being billed as a state visit.
“This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence,” Dawkins said.
The lawyers believe they can ask for a criminal investigation, or launch a civil suit.
Hitchens contends Benedict must be held accountable. “This man is not above or outside the law," he said. "The institutionalized concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment."
Last year pro-Palestinian activists persuaded a British judge to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli politician Tzipi Livni for offenses allegedly committed during the conflict in Gaza. The warrant was withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to the UK.