Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Vatican vs UN: Who Do You Trust?

Fox News reports that Carla del Ponte, the chief prosecutor for the UN War Crimes Tribunal, slammed the Vatican for allegedly protecting an accused war criminal, Croatian general Ante Gotovina, by passing him among monasteries in the Balkans.
"If church leaders 'would give orders not to harbor war crimes suspects, if they would assist justice, fugitives wouldn't find protection in monasteries,' Del Ponte's spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann, said." Of course it's always laughable when the UN talks about justice. It's not clear whether that organization even knows what the word means.
Unfortunately for the Vatican, a charge like this may ring true to many readers. The Vatican has many times appeared to stonewall any questioning of the actions of it's hierarchy. Cardinal Law presided over a diocese that was wracked by sex scandals, and he apparently transferred accused priests to other parishes to avoid trouble instead of turning them over to the authorities for investigation. Now he's in Rome in a high profile job. The Vatican has traditionally wanted to deal with rogue churchmen in their own courts. That was fine in premodern times, but because the Vatican doesn't imprison violators, they really can't maintain this position today. They can punish spiritually, but not physically like secular courts.
To be sure, all of this is lost on people in the UN. Here's a funny bit from del Ponte's spokeswoman, "Catholic, Christian Orthodox and Muslim leaders 'have a responsibility in the end to protect the weak, the victims. Glorifying killers is contrary to all religious teaching, as far as I remember, Hartmann said." Guess she hasn't read the Koran lately. Better not let your overlords hear that.
Apparently it doesn't really matter as "Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said that 'based on all the information we're getting, Gotovina is not in Croatia.' An Interior Ministry spokesman, Zlatko Mehun, said tips last year that the fugitive was hiding at a monastery had been unfounded."
OK, so why the attacks on the Vatican? Anti-Catholic bias? Perhaps to cover up the inability of the UN find the accused? Who can tell? These trials are dragging on. In fact, Slobodan Milosevic's trial still hasn't finished. He completely runs rings around the UN tribunal and makes them look like fools. Accusations hurled by incompetents generally don't hold water. It seems that the Vatican isn't doing anything to protect the accused war criminal, the prosecutors are just unable to get the job done and they need to fault someone other than themselves.
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