. . . immunity from prosecution by agreement with the Italian government.
Joseph Ratzinger whose Papacy began 19 April 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II, has been under fire for several years since it became known that he was involved, at several levels, in protecting Catholic priests across the world who were charged with sexually abusing young children.
* * *
Pope Benedict XVI has faced repeated calls for his arrest in connection with sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church. These calls stem from his failure to bring any of the Priests or other Church officials accused of sexual assault of minors to justice in many countries across the globe.
In some cases it appeared that he acted to protect Priests by moving them to other locations, which gave them the opportunity to continue the abuse.
The Pope will remain a citizen of the Vatican City and therefore have immunity from prosecution within Italy, which upholds the Lateran Pacts from 1929 with the Holy See, and which established the Vatican City as a sovereign state. Pope Benedict XVI will become the first Pope to resign his Papacy since the 1414 resignation of Pope Gregory XII, and he will become the first to voluntarily quit his post as leader of the Catholic Church since Pope Celestine V in 1294.
Leaving the Vatican and Italy could result in the ex-Pope's arrest, since several countries have made plans to charge him with crimes, and possibly turn him over to an International court for prosecution. He will have no immunity if he leaves the Vatican City and Italy.
* * *
The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS - located in Brussels, Belgium) made the announcement to Reuters earlier today.