Vatican law allows sex offenders to escape, say solicitors

Solicitors and barristers have called for the system of law that is operated by the Vatican to be abandoned. One prominent lawyer in particular, Geoffrey Robertson QC, remarked that Canon law has allowed serious sex offenders to escape punishment.

“Canon law has been allowed to trump criminal law in countries throughout the world. This is a very serious matter‚ the pope through his pretensions to statehood refuses to acknowledge that child sex abuse is a serious crime as well as a sin.”

“The Catholic church must abandon canon law as a punishment for priests who commit crimes.”

Robertson further argues that this form of the law “has no public hearings, no DNA test facilities, no enforcement mechanism, and the most severe punishments – excommunication or an order to return to the laity (without entry on a sex offenders’ register) – bears no comparison with the sentences of imprisonment or community service that can be expected under criminal law.”

The penalty for those found guilty of sexual offences against children is to undergo “chiefly spiritual exercises”, which Robertson describes as “derisory”.

Robertson has also remarked that the pope could not be legally considered a head of state and as a result benefit from the protection of diplomatic immunity. Robertson is also fairly critical of the British government for failing to appreciate international law surrounding sovereignty.

The U.K. along with a few other countries actually recognise the supremacy of the Vatican and the Holy See based on a treated signed in 1929 by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, known as the Lateran treaty.

“This is nonsense,” Robertson told the Guardian. “The Lateran treaty says nothing of the sort, and even if it did the UK would not be bound, since it was not a party.

“The Lateran treaty cannot serve as a credible or creditable basis for the Holy See to claim statehood. The grant of 108 acres – the size of a large golf course – was not pursuant to any international treaty, but rather the unilateral declaration of one sovereign state.”

Robertson said: “The most dim-witted tourist in St Peter’s Square can recognise that before him stands not a state, but a palace with a basilica surrounded by museums and gardens.”

There has been a growing number of calls from campaigners to have the pope arrested for crimes against humanity.  This comes at a time when the pope is expected to make his first papal visit to Great Britain in nearly thirty years.

It has become clear that the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg will be among the politicians and religious leaders that are expected to be presented to Benedict XVI by the Queen at Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh.

About the Author:
Antonia Torr is a graduate from the University of Leicester, with a degree in Law with European Union Law. Having enjoyed writing from a young age, Antonia has received numerous awards that act as a testament to her quality of writing. The UK’s Best Solicitors in your area, please visit our website at
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