These two atheists through Barrister Geoffrey Robertson, a highly visible lawyer, academic, author and broadcaster, and Mark Stephens, a media lawyer and human right activist, are trying to explore the possibility of bringing charges against the Pope and getting him arrested. Their argument is that the Pope does not have the diplomatic immunity as the head of a state because Vatican is not considered as a full state in the UN and it is not a full member of the UN with voting rights. The Vatican has only an observer state status in the UN.
Richard Dawkins suspects that child sex abuse had been deliberately kept secret by the Church. Christopher Hitchens says: "This man [the Pope] is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child abuse is a crime under any law."
Vatican officials have denied any cover-up of the sex abuse cases and emphasized that Pope Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, pressed for harsher measures against child abusing priests and made it easier for the Church to defrock them. He also made it more difficult for practising homosexuals to enter the priesthood.
According to the BBC News, Dr. William Oddie, former editor of the weekly The Catholic Herald in London, said the arrest campaign against the Pope demonstrated how "wonderfully lunatic" both Christopher Hitchens and Professor Dawkins were. "What's lawful is what is lawfully agreed by lawful authorities, in this case Italian law -- the government of Italy -- and secondly, international law, determined by the United Nations. Both legal authorities accept the Vatican is a legal state. Christopher Hitchens is entitled to say it shouldn't be one, but he can't say it isn't one -- it's like people in a lunatic society saying they are Napoleon."
Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, when asked about the arrest threat to the Pope, said: "This is a bizarre idea to say the least. It looks like the intent is to make a public opinion splash. I think they should look for something more serious and concrete before we can respond to it."
Who are these two atheists?
Richard Dawkins (1941- ), British ethologist (a branch of zoology that studies animal behaviour in their natural habitats), evolutionary biologist and science author, taught at the Oxford University and was a fellow of New College, Oxford. He is also a secular humanist, skeptic and scientific rationalist. Renouncing Anglicanism, he became an avowed atheist. Among his books are The Selfish Gene (1976), The Blind Watchmaker (1986) and The God Delusion (2006).
Christopher Hitchens (1949- ), British journalist, author, and polemist who studied at the Oxford University. Originally an Anglican, later he embraced atheism. He likes to call himself "anti-deist" or anti-God. He now resides in the USA. Among his books are The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995) and god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007). In the first book mentioned here, he attacked Mother Teresa as being a hypocrite for accepting large donations from tyrannical dictators and fraudsters.
Both of these two persons are prosetilyzing atheists -- they preach and disseminate their idea of atheism (disbelief or denial of God) through writing and speeches. Christopher Hitchens is quite active in the USA. He writes articles like " Why I Hate Christmas."