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English Catholic groups explain: campaign to arrest Pope is nonsense

Catholic World News - April 15, 2010

Two English Catholic organizations have joined in an effort to clear up public confusion following a highly publicized campaign calling for the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Great Britain in September.

News reports about that publicity campaign "seem to have completely misrepresented the law," note the Thomas More Legal Centre and the Catholic Union. In a joint statement the groups point out: "The enforcement of criminal law is a duty of the state and is not the job of private vigilantes pursuing a personal ideological agenda."

"There is not a single criminal offence under British law which could conceivably be alleged against Pope Benedict," the two groups say. Their statement notes that under the nation's law, Catholic bishops have legal standing as employers, trustees, and managers, but the law does not recognize the Pope as legally responsible for the activities of Catholic institutions in the United Kingdom.

Finally, because he will be making an official state visit, Pope Benedict enjoys sovereign immunity from arrest, the groups conclude.

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