Two German lawyers, grandstanding for attention no doubt, have filed charges at the International Criminal Court against Pope Benedict XVI. The charges: that the Pope is…whisper it…Catholic. According to the Irish Times:

Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel, based at Marktheidenfeld in the Pope’s home state of Bavaria, last week submitted a 16,500-word document to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Dr Luis Moreno Ocampo.

Their charges concern “three worldwide crimes which until now have not been denounced . . . (as) the traditional reverence toward ‘ecclesiastical authority’ has clouded the sense of right and wrong”.

And what are the crimes with which Joseph Ratzinger is believed by these two heroic attorneys to be guilty?

They claim the Pope “is responsible for the preservation and leadership of a worldwide totalitarian regime of coercion which subjugates its members with terrifying and health-endangering threats”.

In other words, he’s the Pope. He leads a world-wide church that elected him in a manner that those who are members presumably agree with, and he leads that church through the power of moral suasion. Anyone can ignore him and his pronouncements if they like, and if they are are excommunicated (one of the very few “totalitarian” weapons at his disposal) they would likely not care, because they don’t buy into him having that power (which is why they ignored him in the first place). In other words, the idea that Benedict can “terrify” anyone speaks more to the condescending view that these two have of Catholics than to the power of the papacy.

They allege he is also responsible for “the adherence to a fatal forbiddance of the use of condoms, even when the danger of HIV-Aids infection exists”

In other words, he dissents from the modern view of birth control and unbridled sexual license. How very medieval of him. Look, you can argue with the official Catholic view of birth control (a view that is, ironically enough, pretty much universally ignored in the lawyer’s home country and throughout the rest of the West), but they are unquestionably correct that the best way to avoid getting HIV/AIDS through sexual activity is to keep your pants zipped. As far as it goes, I’ve got to wonder if these guys even read the press in their own country–Benedict has said that condom use may be permissible as a way of fighting disease, though that doesn’t make it right for birth control. I’m not sure exactly how you reconcile those two perspectives, but if this a “crime against humanity,” I’m a pimento loaf.

and for “the establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes”.

And now their just committing libel. They have no proof of a such a charge, except that there have been sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests (at a far lower rate than, say, public school teachers, at least here in the States), and that some bishops have covered those crimes up. The link to Benedict, even before he became pope, is basically a figment of some fervid imaginations.

They claim the Catholic Church “acquires its members through a compulsory act, namely, through the baptism of infants that do not yet have a will of their own”. This act was “irrevocable” and is buttressed by threats of excommunication and the fires of hell.

It was “a grave impairment of the personal freedom of development and of a person’s emotional and mental integrity”. The Pope was “responsible for its preservation and enforcement and, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of his Church, he was jointly responsible” with Pope John Paul II.

Not sure whether this is the third charge, or merely foaming at the mouth, but in any case what they are again suggesting is that the Pope is the head of a church that teaches and practices certain things. If these junior-grade Madalyn Murray O’Hairs want to ban religious freedom in Europe, they should just say so, and see what kind of reaction that gets. In the meantime, they should be disbarred for legal malpractice.

(Hat tip: Kevin Curtis via Facebook.)