Fact Check

Pope Benedict Resignation

Pope Benedict XVI resigned in order to avoid arrest?

Published Feb. 19, 2013


Claim:   Pope Benedict XVI resigned in order to avoid arrest.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, February 2013]

On February 4, a week before Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, Vatican
allegedly received a note from an undisclosed European government that
stated that there are plans to issue a warrant for the Pope's arrest.

With his resignation announced, the former pope will have a meeting with
the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano on February 23 to beg for
immunity against prosecution for allegations of child rape.

Benedict XVI was the first Pope to resign in 600 years, which shocked
almost everyone. And he did so after panicking about an impending arrest
in the midst of a hastily arranged meeting begging for protection from the
Italian government.

But for him this will not be easy as the International Tribunal into
Crimes of Church and State calls upon the Italian President to deny help

to Ratzinger. If the Italian President does cave there may be another
venue to make sure he doesn't get away.

In addition to these alleged attempts by this European government to
prosecute, a New York based organization, The Centre for Constitutional
Rights, has accused the Pope and his Cardinals of possible crimes against
humanity for sheltering pedophile priests. The non-profit legal group has
requested an ICC inquiry on behalf of the Survivor's Network, citing the
church's "long-standing and pervasive system of sexual violence."

The Catholic Church truly knows no bounds when it comes to protecting
their priests, no matter how heinous the crimes. They are the biggest
example of religion getting people passes. All we can do is hope that
these attempts of legal action will become succesful.


Origins:   The announcement in February 2013 that Pope Benedict XVI would be resigning took the world by surprise, as it marked the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years. Pope Benedict (the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope in 2005 after John Paul II's death) stated that he was stepping down because he was too old to continue in the position at the age of 85.

Shortly after Pope Benedict's resignation announcement rumors like the one cited above began circulating, claiming that the resignation was prompted by a pending arrest warrant over the Pope's "complicity in concealing child trafficking in his church and other crimes against humanity." The source of these rumors was uncorroborated material posted to the web site of International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS), which as far as we have been able to ascertain is not actually an international tribunal at all but simply a blog maintained maintained by a single person (Kevin D. Annett).

Shortly after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio succeeded Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Francis I in March 2013, the ITCCS posted a similar article claiming that an arrest warrant had been issued against Pope Francis for "crimes against humanity and child trafficking." That "warrant" was a creation produced by the ITCCS and issued in the name of the "The International Common Law Court of Justice" (another invention of the ITCCS); it was not issued by any recognized international legal agency and has no legal standing.

Last updated:   15 March 2013


    Pullella, Philip.   "Pope Will Have Security, Immunity by Remaining in the Vatican."

    Reuters.   15 February 2013.

    BBC News.   "Pope Benedict XVI to Resign Citing Poor Health."

    11 February 2013.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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