The U.S. says the Hitler Youth Pope should be immune from a civil suit regarding his role in covering up for pedophile priests.
The U.S. government has told a Texas court that Pope Benedict XVI should be given immunity from a lawsuit accusing him of conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian, court documents show.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Peter Keisler said in Monday’s filing that, as pope, Benedict enjoys immunity as the head of a state — the Vatican. He said allowing the lawsuit to proceed would be ”incompatible with the United States’ foreign policy interests.”
There was no immediate ruling from Judge Lee Rosenthal of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, who has been presiding over the case. However, the Supreme Court has held that U.S. courts are bound by such ”suggestion of immunity” motions submitted by the government, Keisler’s filing says.
The lawsuit alleges that Ratzinger, who headed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming pope, was involved in a conspiracy to hide Patino-Arango’s crimes and to help him escape prosecution.
The lawsuit cites a May 18, 2001, letter from Ratzinger, written in Latin to bishops around the world, explaining that ”grave” crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors would be handled by his congregation and that the proceedings of special church tribunals handling the cases were subject to ”pontifical secret.”