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British campaigners threaten pope with arrest - Comments

RedBarchetta's Avatar Comment 1 by RedBarchetta

Richard is due on FiveLive this afternoon on Richard Bacon's show (John Inverdale sitting in) to talk about this.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:04:00 UTC | #458370

Modo's Avatar Comment 2 by Modo

Richard’s true involvement in this development needs to be revealed more widely, and quickly for several reasons. Firstly, as the professor has already explained to us (the choir) the story is simply untrue. Secondly, the Times in particular should not be allowed to get away with what it seems to have now started, they owe Richard an apology. Thirdly, any future legal action that might in fact be taken against the Pope may be read by the public to be a “well he (Dawkins) would say that wouldn’t he?” type argument, thereby insidiously (and wrongly) lessening the credibility and force of the argument against the church and shifting the focus away from the accusations at hand.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:05:00 UTC | #458371

Veronique's Avatar Comment 3 by Veronique

So am I Stafford, so am I.

The Catholic League won't publish my comment - it has been taken down for 'moderation'. Hahahahaha.

So yes, these burgeoning spaces in the press are worth watching!!!


Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:09:00 UTC | #458375

MrPickwick's Avatar Comment 4 by MrPickwick

Its a shame that in a world with more than 6,692,030,277 people, only 2 of them have the courage to do the right thing about this issue. Thank you RD and CH.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:15:00 UTC | #458377

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 5 by Stafford Gordon

Veronique: I took my comment down because I posted it before reading the entire article; I've now read it all and, I reiterate, I'm really beginning to enjoy this!

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:19:00 UTC | #458379

Dark Matter's Avatar Comment 6 by Dark Matter

All of us have a genuine moral duty to help Richard and Christopher in their attempt to arrest the Pope for crimes against humanity.

I hope to see you all there when the Pope visit the UK in Sept:

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:20:00 UTC | #458381

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 7 by Ivan The Not So Bad

Comment #478994 by RedBarchetta

"Richard is due on FiveLive this afternoon on Richard Bacon's show (John Inverdale sitting in) to talk about this."

Thanks for the tip-off.

Everyone, here is the link to listen live:

And to listen after the broadcast:

As this is a BBC radio broadcast, there should be no geographical restrictions.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:51:00 UTC | #458393

Ron Millam's Avatar Comment 8 by Ron Millam

This legal action won't be cheap. Fighting the RCC is going to cost big piles of cash.

Where can I contribute?

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:55:00 UTC | #458395

Papalinton's Avatar Comment 9 by Papalinton

Great courage and a huge measure of common decency and integrity Richard and Christopher. You have my support whichever way you wish it to bring this action to pass.
I wish the blinded, bigoted and indoctrinated laity who feel this is an attack on the church (rather than seeking justice for the victims), would set aside for a while and let justice take its course. Once the mess has been cleaned up (which they have been incapable of undertaking themselves either because they were too willing to protect the reputation of the church or were complicit through their tacit approval of the way the church hierarchy had dealt with these heinous issues) they can have their church back; cleansed.

For goodness sake, it's a win/win situation.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 11:59:00 UTC | #458396

Pyrion's Avatar Comment 10 by Pyrion

As much as i wish the best for this case i think the argumentation that the pope does not have diplomatic immunity is flawed. For being a head of a state it is not required that this state has full membership in the UN. I am no lawyer of course, but it sounds like a fishy argument.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 12:47:00 UTC | #458418

barsteward's Avatar Comment 11 by barsteward

"Richard is due on FiveLive this afternoon" - are you sure? there is no mention of Richard being on this show - its Dr Lisa Cuddy from "House" - but Phillip Pullman is on his show on Wednesday

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 12:56:00 UTC | #458421

Dark Matter's Avatar Comment 12 by Dark Matter

Apparently the report is false:

"The Oxford author Richard Dawkins has reacted angrily to exaggerated claims in the weekend's papers.

The Sunday Times ran with headline "Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI".

The Mail Online led with "Richard Dawkins plans to arrest the Pope for 'crimes against humanity'".

On his website the author of the best-selling book The God Delusion asserts not to have said "anything so personally grandiloquent".

But Dawkins admits he is "whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope's proposed visit to Britain."

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 12:58:00 UTC | #458422

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 13 by mordacious1

Dawkins and the English journalist Christopher Hitchens...

That would be the American journalist Christopher Hitchens. He seems to be very proud to be an American.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 14:04:00 UTC | #458466

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 14 by Peacebeuponme


Well, he never lost his Englishness. Just his Britishness... Though actually I have no idea whether he needed to give up his British passport on naturalising?

He does seem proud to be an American though.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 14:10:00 UTC | #458470

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 15 by Steven Mading

Peacebeuponme, don't you mean his Northern Irelandness?

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 15:00:00 UTC | #458499

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 16 by mordacious1


I heard him correct a journalist, right after he obtained citizenship, who called him English, so I think he's shown a preference (and don't call him Chris either).

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 15:03:00 UTC | #458501

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 17 by Peacebeuponme

mordacious - really? Oh, I didn't know that.

Steven - I don't get you, but never mind. Haven't posted for ages, so should not start up again with these distractions.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 15:41:00 UTC | #458521

brainsys's Avatar Comment 18 by brainsys

You can't renounce British citizenship. You can say you have as a condition of getting US citizenship but it has no legal effect. He has dual citizenship and can reclaim his British passport at any time by proving his identity.

Hence I assume if he committed a crime in the UK and was arrested here - the US Embassy would have no right of access etc. Though I have a feeling that HMG wouldn't want to make an issue of upsetting the USA.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 15:43:00 UTC | #458523

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 19 by Steven Mading

Steven - I don't get you, but never mind. Haven't posted for ages, so should not start up again with these distractions.

I had thought I heard him say once that his family was one of the English living in northern Ireland and that's where he grew up. I can't seem to find that reference now, so I may very well have remembered this wrongly and perhaps confused him with someone else.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 16:28:00 UTC | #458539

VanYoungman's Avatar Comment 20 by VanYoungman

I hope they didn't spend too much on legal fees. Diplomatic immunity supercedes all criminal liability.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 16:40:00 UTC | #458542

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 21 by Steven Mading

The US immigration service used to disallow dual citizenship, once upon a time. But that was overturned by a court ruling in 1967, and that was later upheld by another one in 1980.

What this means when a rule made by the legislative or executive branch is overruled later by the judicial branch, in the confusing legal maze of US practices, is that the judicial ruling supersedes what the law says on paper, but the law on paper doesn't get stricken. It stays there, with the caveat that its enforcement is only being currently suppressed by the judicial ruling. If this sounds dangerously temporary and that it leaves a land-mine in place to pop up again later should the court change it's mind, you're right. It does. That's how US law works. When a law is declared illegal by the court, it does NOT get removed. It stays there and only goes away permanently if the legislature decides to repeal it. If it does not, and the court ever issues a different ruling in the future, all the laws the previous ruling were suppressing immediately spring back to life again and are considered the law of the land again from that moment.

The US oath of citizenship still contains the clause where the new citizen-to-be has to renounce any former citizenship, but even though the citizen-to-be is still required by law to utter the words since the law hasn't been changed, the supreme court does not allow the US government to actually enforce the law behind that oath. So the renoucing-citizneship oath is simultaneously required and unenforceable.

So Christopher Hitchens, and any other dual-citizenship naturalized US citizen, is in this very confusing legal situation:

- They have taken a public oath renouncing all former citizenship. There is already a record of this on file.

- They haven't really renounced former citizenship yet despite what they said, and they were told the words are no longer enforced so it's "safe" to say them without worrying about it.

- If the supreme court ever changes their mind about this ruling, then he oath these people have already taken will suddenly, overnight, have retroactively become real and they will retroactively lose their dual-citizenship.

The fact that laws stay on the books even when the supreme court has said you can't enforce them is a source of legal headache in the US.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 16:54:00 UTC | #458547

Drosera's Avatar Comment 22 by Drosera

@Comment #479019 by Ivan The Not So Bad:

And to listen after the broadcast:

This is from the programme description of today's broadcast:

"Christopher Biggins talks to Richard about why he loves showbiz so much and why he's appalled by the Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling's comments about B&B owners being able to turn away gay couples"

This must be from a parallel universe, slightly different from ours:

Christopher Biggins => Christopher Hitchens
Richard => Richard Dawkins
Chris Grayling => A.C. Grayling

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 17:19:00 UTC | #458562

liberalartist's Avatar Comment 23 by liberalartist

I think the pope would have diplomatic immunity if he were coming to the US because we have a Vatican Ambassador. But I don't know if Great Britain has an Ambassador. It may depend on how the British government views the Vatican - as a nation, a religion, a corporation... or perhaps just a bunch of old farts in dresses, but I digress... I still think it is a good idea to try - we shouldn't sit back and just let them get away with their lies and inhumane conduct. Hold them accountable! Thank you Richard and Christopher Hitchens.

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 17:27:00 UTC | #458567

deziner's Avatar Comment 24 by deziner

I think the pope would have diplomatic immunity if he were coming to the US because we have a Vatican Ambassador.

Well, let's see. I've done some quick research on the matter, though I am by no means versed on it, and I've come up with this:

1) Diplomatic immunity is officially a function of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which member states must agree to be bound.
2) The State of Vatican City is an observer-state to the UN, with full member rights except that of the vote and presenting candidates.
3) The State of Vatican City has not signed or agreed to the VCoDR.

To me, this means that the only way for the pope to have diplomatic immunity is through bi-lateral ad-hoc agreements with individual countries. Does allowing an ambassador in your country constitute enough of an agreement to grant diplomatic immunity? Or does the ambassadorial requirement need to be mutual to grant that right?

I guess one would have to go the parliament to decide that.

Tue, 13 Apr 2010 00:11:00 UTC | #458680

Quine's Avatar Comment 25 by Quine

There was a good interview with international law expert, Mark Stephens, broadcast on the radio in Australia discussing these issues. You can listen to it here:

Tue, 13 Apr 2010 00:39:00 UTC | #458682