“Another official said: ‘While this was not the main consideration [really?], it certainly is a corollary, a natural result’
“After he resigns, Benedict will no longer be the sovereign monarch of the State of the Vatican City, which is surrounded by Rome, but will retain Vatican citizenship and residency.
“That would continue to provide him immunity under the provisions of the Lateran Pacts while he is in the Vatican and even if he jaunts into Italy as a Vatican citizen.
“The 1929 Lateran Pacts between Italy and the Holy See, which established Vatican City as a sovereign state, said Vatican City would be ‘invariably and in every event considered as neutral and inviolable territory.’
“There have been repeated calls for Benedict’s arrest over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
“When Benedict went to Britain in 2010, British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins asked authorities to arrest the pope to face questions over the Church’s child abuse scandal. Dawkins and the late British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens commissioned lawyers to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope. Their efforts came to nothing because the pope was a head of state and so enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Read more