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The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse Paperback – September 1, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Robertson is an adept QC and this is a devastating case."  —Daily Telegraph


"Combines moral passion with steely forensic precision. . . It is one of the most formidable demolition jobs one could imagine on a man who has done more to discredit the cause of religion than Rasputin and Pat Robertson put together."  —Guardian


"Forceful, wide-ranging."  —Tablet


"Robertson has not become a successful lawyer by muddling his arguments and distorting his facts. . . He writes clearly, at times passionately, as counsel for the prosecution."  —Financial Times

About the Author

Geoffrey Robertson is founder and head of Doughty Street Chambers, the largest human rights practice in the UK. He has appeared in the courts of many countries as counsel in leading cases in constitutional, criminal, and international law and served as the first President of the UN War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone, where he authored a landmark decision on the illegality of recruiting child soldiers. He defended in the last two cases brought for blasphemy in Britain (against Salman Rushdie and Gay News), represented Catholic lawyers and youth workers detained without trial by Lee Kwan Yew, and was counsel in Bowman v United Kingdom, which established the right of Catholics to campaign effectively against abortion laws during elections. He sits as a recorder and as a master of Middle Temple and a visiting professor of human rights law at Queen Mary College. In 2008, he was appointed as a distinguished jurist member of the UN Justice Council. His books include Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice, The Justice Game, and The Tyrannicide Brief, as well as a memoir.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241953847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241953846
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do not read his book if you suffer from moral nausea or ethical indignation. You will be sick for weeks, and probably for much longer.

Australian-born Geoffrey Robertson is a notable human rights lawyer and judge based in London. In his book he asks a simple question: to what extent is the Roman Catholic Church, and its head, the Pope, legally accountable for child abuse committed by its priests? He answers the question in a sustained forensic analysis that is devastating in its clarity, facts, even-handedness and focus. In the style of a legal brief, he writes in numbered paragraphs. There are 245 of them. They grip one by the throat as one reads.

Based on extant data and reasonable inference, it can be calculated that over 100,000 young people, from children to teenagers, overwhelmingly but not exclusively boys, have been molested in the Catholic Church over the past thirty years (to go back no further). It was during this period that Joseph Ratzinger, first as a Cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith-he was appointed in 1983-and then, from 2005, as Pope Benedict, had as much influence over the rules monitoring priestly conduct as anyone else in the Catholic hierarchy. Why have so few priests been prosecuted? Why does the Catholic Church, with its enormous resources of power and influence, continue in these matters to resist any accountability to national and international law?

The answer is that it does not feel it is accountable to any laws but its own, that is Canon Law. It asserts this right by reference to its role as an independent state, established in the 1929 Lateran Treaty it made with Mussolini.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dozens of books have been written about the clergy sexual molestation scandal in the Catholic Church. Geoff Robertson has written one of the select few that serve as foundational studies essential for a clear understanding of the issue. This brilliant book is grounded solidly on facts. The author, a well respected and accomplished human rights attorney and judge from Great Britain, has thoroughly examined the unique status of the Catholic Church as a member of the community of nations. The reason for the author's examination and analysis of the Catholic Church's participation in the U.N. and its parallel status as a sovereign nation is the revelation of the Church's handling of the world-wide problem of sexual abuse of minors by its clergy. One does not have to get very far into the book before the feelings of anger, prompted by the exposition of the Vatican's systematic duplicitous actions, turn to revulsion. This book is not a polemic but a detailed exposition of what really is and for this reason it makes the blood of any honest person, Catholic or not, quickly rise to the boiling point. Over the past several years official Catholic sources from the Vatican down to the local parish have churned out a steady flow of well-tuned rhetoric about the sex abuse crisis. It all amounts to variations on the same theme, namely that the Church leaders really aren't at fault in any way and that they have done more than any other institution to deal effectively with the scourge of sexual abuse and exploitation of children and adults. Geoffrey Robertson has studied the facts and has responded by pouring cold water on the Church's complex and misleading propaganda. The clergy sex abuse phenomenon is not a "Church" problem but a societal problem of international dimensions. Robertson's book is one of the very best sources for understanding this problem and seeing it as it really is.
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Format: Paperback
Geoffrey Robertson's summation of the abuse scandal raging in the Roman Catholic Church is indeed a tragic indictment of the organizational and criminal corruption that renders the institution moribund and culturally archaic.

The earlier extensive review by Opinion above covers large portions of Robertson's content, nonetheless numbered paragraph 232 from the book sums up the case;

"The evidence summarized in this book reveals three stunning, shameful and incontrovertible facts about the governance of the catholic Church since Joseph Ratzinger became an archbishop (1979), the head of the CDF (1981) and Pope (2005):

a. Tens of thousands, perhaps even a hundred thousand children and teenagers, mainly boys, have been sexually abused by the clergy, and most have been caused serious and long-term psychological damage.

b. Thousands of clergy, known to be guilty of very grave crimes of a kind which most perpetrators have a propensity to commit again, have not been defrocked. They have been harboured by the church, moved to other parishes or countries and protected from identification and from temporal punishment - usually a prison sentence - under Canon Law protocols that offer them forgiveness in this world as well as in the next.

c. The Holy See, a pseudo-state, has established a foreign law jurisdiction in other friendly states pursuant to which, in utter secrecy, it has dealt with sex abusers in a manner incompatible with, and in some respects contrary to, the law of the nation in which it operates, and has withheld the evidence of their guilt from law enforcement authorities.
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