The culture that is Germany, kein eurobond für den Papst

by on November 26, 2011 at 2:29 am in Law, Religion, Travel | Permalink

A GERMAN citizen has filed a complaint against Pope Benedict XVI for not using a seat belt in the Popemobile during his September visit to his homeland.

Lawyer Johannes Christian Sundermann has filed papers in Dortmund on behalf of his unnamed client, charging the Pope with “repeated breaches” of Germany’s seat belt law.

“Herr Joseph Ratzinger, born 16 April 1927 in Marktl/Altötting” travelled on September 24th and 25th “for the duration of more than an hour” without a seat belt, the lawyer states in documents.

Mr Sundermann and his client say they can prove the repeated misdemeanour during his visit to Freiburg – using videos from YouTube.

Here is more.

prior_approval November 26, 2011 at 3:43 am

Man, if only someone would be as concerned about Ratzinger’s documented involvment in covering up German child abuse – but nope, we get this. And just wait to see how it will be handled – something like ‘diplomatic immunity’ mumble, ‘respect’ mumble, and ‘since he didn’t get a ticket then, it is out of our hands’ (along with the understated ‘good Catholics support the pope, and Lutherans and atheists are again proving they are enemies of godliness’ – Merkel got this when she had the temerity to point out the failings of Ratzinger’s institution) – it’s worked pretty well in terms of child abuse till now, at least.

The real scandal in the culture that is Germany, till now, is why Germany is incapable of handling the Catholic Church’s documented abuses as well as the U.S., Ireland, Austria….
(Though admittedly, it is hard work – as this current American case where a bishop has been indicted for failing to report child abuse demonstrates –
‘The case has generated fury at a bishop who was already a polarizing figure in his diocese, and there are widespread calls for him to resign. Parishioners started a Facebook page called ’”Bishop Finn Must Go” and circulated a petition. An editorial in The Kansas City Star in June calling for the bishop to step down concluded that prosecutors must “’actively pursue all relevant criminal charges” against everyone involved.

Stoking much of the anger is the fact that only three years ago, Bishop Finn settled lawsuits with 47 plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases for $10 million and agreed to a long list of preventive measures, among them to report anyone suspected of being a pedophile immediately to law enforcement authorities.

Bishop Finn, who was appointed in 2005, alienated many of his priests and parishioners, and won praise from others, when he remade the diocese to conform with his traditionalist theological views. He is one of few bishops affiliated with the conservative movement Opus Dei.’
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/15/us/kansas-city-bishop-indicted-in-reporting-of-abuse-by-priest.html?emc=na )

Andreas Moser November 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Exactly. The continued child abuse and the Catholic church’s attempts at cover-up, silencing victims and evading prosecution – although state immunity does not protect the priests in this case: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/the-case-of-the-pope-by-geoffrey-robertson-is-a-flawed-case/ – are the real scandal.

Rahul November 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Does the Catholic church have any special legal status to evade prosecution? If not I lay the blame more on the secular prosecutorial system; why are they not prosecuting more diligently?

Patrick November 26, 2011 at 4:07 am

A German lawyer whose law school skimped on the sovereign immunities part of international law…. this will be a quick fail.

affenkopf November 26, 2011 at 5:23 am

There are no German law schools. Law (as medicine) is a normal subject at universities that can be studied without a previous degree.

jkl November 26, 2011 at 4:40 pm

There are german law schools. As every single normal country in the world is a universitiy school. It is an undergraduated school as medicine or engeenering.
Only in the USA there is the preposterous gradutaed school status for law. It was a mean to keep down the offer and the wages high.

Rahul November 26, 2011 at 6:37 am

According to the article:

“a government spokesman suggested that the Pope might not be immune from prosecution if he returned to Germany on a private visit.”

Andreas Moser November 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm

As a fellow German lawyer, I find this rather embarrassing.

joshua November 26, 2011 at 6:03 am

Can you legally prove stuff with YouTube? I’ve always wondered if they still use pictures in courtrooms in this PhotoShop age, but videos provide a whole nother level of potential doctoring. But hey maybe it creates jobs for a whole round of experts to pontificate about whether the evidence has been doctored, right?

Mitch November 26, 2011 at 9:09 am

Videos can’t be trusted now either. See: http://vimeo.com/28962540 (Rendering Synthetic Objects Into Legacy Photographs)

Austin November 26, 2011 at 6:32 am

Is it customary in Germany to tattle on people not wearing seat belts? Or is this fellow just searching for attention?

Claudia Sahm November 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

Austin, in general (but not without exception), Germans have and at least verbally defend more rules than Americans. And yet they tend to be less apt to sue, so this article has more than one degree of strangeness to it. For example, I decided to cross a one lane street with no car in sight (and a very long light) in Germany…an old woman who I did not know start announcing loudly in German “the light is red”…why yes, it is I wanted to say. But I was the only one of about 10 people standing there who walked across. Maybe the lass in the Popemobile makes it impossible to yell buckle up. Rules make German society function well (and Germans happy)…the speeds on the Autobahn would be a disaster in the US. But German’s penchant for following rules can also cause trouble sometimes. Every culture has its foibles.

Rahul November 26, 2011 at 7:34 am

Autobahns are overhyped. Are the average speeds much higher than the US? Traffic, construction etc. ensure that design speeds are rarely achieved. I didn’t seem to get around any faster.

Claudia Sahm November 26, 2011 at 8:02 am

On average you may not go much faster…but even I was impressed at our big German rental car pushing some serious speeds (for a short while) on the Autobahn. It takes a lot of experience to drive that fast…and a respect for rules…slow people can’t “surprise” you by pulling out in the fast lane…or else.

Due South November 26, 2011 at 9:34 am

But German’s penchant for following rules can also cause trouble sometimes.

Understatement is the essence of wit.

Rahul November 26, 2011 at 6:50 am

Can a civil suit be filed on what’s essentially a (minor) criminal code violation? Don’t criminal violations have to be prosecuted by the state and the prosecutor enjoys wide discretion as to which particular cases they will or wont prosecute. What’s the breach / tort etc. suffered by Sundermann’s client?

Andreas Moser November 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

You’re exactly right.
There is no room for a civil suit here. The lawyer in question (and anyone else) can only try to inform the authorities of someone else’s alleged crime or misdemeanour. It’s up to them and their discretion whether to prosecute.
By the way, Germany’s statute of limitation for traffic offences is only 3 months.

dearieme November 26, 2011 at 7:08 am

I infallibly wear a seat belt. So there’s something the Pope and I have in common.

Meets November 26, 2011 at 7:22 am

This is bad news for the Euro.

Claudia Sahm November 26, 2011 at 8:26 am

Meets, in general, I share your concern (if it stems from Germans’ obsession with playing by the rules)…and yet Merkel is a wild card…a former East German (they had to work around a lot of stupid rules) and a woman at the top of politics (no small feat in unified Germany which is not super supportive of careerist women). She seems to have “broken” a lot of societal/cultural rules to get where she is. So we will see.

Andrew' November 26, 2011 at 10:04 am

I thought the US was the place where you had to harass people in order to change a bad law.

LemmusLemmus November 26, 2011 at 10:27 am

After reading this comments thread it seems strange that it is *Germans* who have a name for having no humour.

LemmusLemmus November 26, 2011 at 10:33 am

. . . especially when you read these bits:

“The lawyer says his client, though not a Catholic, was concerned for the safety of the Pope in his armoured car, which reportedly has a seat belt though it usually moves at a walking pace. As a repeat seat belt offender, the man believes the Pope should face the maximum €2,500 fine allowed.

“Mr Sundermann has asked whether the diocese of Freiburg or the state authorities lifted the seat belt obligation for the pontiff.

“To that end, he has cited as witnesses to his case the German prelate Robert Zollitsch, archbishop of Freiburg, and Winfried Kretschmann, state premier of Baden-Württemberg.”

Brilliant!

Jim November 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

Can’t say I’m surprised. There are now more Muslims in Germany than in Lebanon.

Andreas Moser November 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm

There are even more Christians in Germany than in Lebanon.
I don’t see the connection.

Donald Pretari November 26, 2011 at 11:41 am

Billiards at Half-Past Nine. Just Sayin’.

Andreas Moser November 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Great book!

athEIst November 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm

If he can delay this a few years 2500 euros will be worth $1.98.

freemarketer November 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

I hope the lawyer and his client keep in mind whom they are up against: he is none other than the successor of St.Peter and so holds the keys to the doors of heaven and hell.

Robert November 27, 2011 at 11:21 pm

There are people who will do anything to hurt the Catholic Church. In Massachusettes people sued the government to close Catholic Charities after Gay Marriage was enacted in the state because Catholic Charities won’t adopt kids to gay couples. Nevermind all the poor and downtrodden they help. Its been this way since the beginning and always will be.

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