As the saying goes, there is something rotten going on in European nations as increasing anger towards the Catholic Church rises. More than 10,000 people in the UK have signed petitions opposing Pope Benedict’s proposed visit to their nation. Perhaps, even more ominous is an investigation by some British lawyers as to whether the Pope could be charged as an accomplice in a systematic cover-up of sexual abuses by priests. Universal jurisdiction– a concept in international law– allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live. British judges have been more open to this concept than most judges in the world.
Geoffrey Robertson, a former UN appeals judge, notes, “unlike in the United States, where the judges commonly uphold what the executive says the British courts don’t accept these things at face value.” However, most probably few would dare to open such a can of worms in the United Kingdom. In the end, it is necessary for the Catholic Church to monitor its own system.