When I’m not busy reading cases and drafting memos, I enjoy watching thought-provoking documentaries produced by PBS. This weekend was no exception: I watched Frontline’s latest documentary on the scandal surrounding child abuse complaints within the Roman Catholic Church. This controversial and devastating topic raises interesting legal issues.
Unlike most democratic monarchies, the Vatican does not possess a system of separation of power. The pope has absolute authority over the entire Roman Catholic Church; he exercises ex officio supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power. This distinct internal legal system is better known as Canon Law.
Although child abuse complaints have arisen all over the world, international jurisdiction cannot put its arms around this issue. The Vatican is one of the few nations not to have ratified the Rome Statute (http://www.un.org/law/icc/) that established the International Criminal Court; a court that has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocides committed after July 1, 2002.
If this topic sounds at all interesting to you, check it out directly from Frontline’s webpage: “Secrets of the Vatican”