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Even the pope is not above the law

In the late 1990s the Roman Catholic Church was entangled in sexual abuse cases involving underage children. It has been a while since the scandals made the headlines, but the details behind the scandals still remain largely unknown. What’s worse, since there is indication that high-ranking members of the church attempted to hush up the affair, it is uncertain whether safeguards have been put into place to stop such deplorable incidents from occurring again.

Yet the U.S. government does not only seem disinterested in a matter that concerns the abuse of United States citizens, it may now actively hamper a pending case that has the power to shed light on the matter once and for all.

A lawsuit in Texas aimed at investigating if and how high-ranking members of the church were involved in covering up the sexual abuse of three boys received quite a damper from the federal government. In a statement released Monday by Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler, it was stated that Pope Benedict XVI could not be implicated in the case even though sources persistently named him as a figure instrumental in stonewalling investigations when he was still a cardinal and close associate of the late Pope John Paul II.

The statement reasoned that Pope Benedict was head of the Vatican, making him a head of state and granting him diplomatic immunity. Even the potential of implicating him, so the statement, was “incompatible with the United States’ foreign policy interests.”It is clear that the lawsuit is very delicate in nature and should in no way be turned into a witch hunt. It is, however, important to investigate the matter fully to ensure that those who were abused can find peace, but more importantly to ensure that such cases cannot occur again.

New abuse cases would, after all, not only be incompatible with the United States’ domestic policy, they would also undermine the United States’ self-proclaimed leadership in establishment of individual freedoms, democracy and security as basic human rights.