Did the Pope resign to avoid an arrest warrant? (Probably not.)

Ever since the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, my Facebook news feed has been inundated with dubiously sourced reports like this, arguing that he is stepping down because of an imminent warrant for his arrest.

There are indeed serious arguments about the Pontiff’s handling of the Church sexual-abuse scandals. But Google “Pope arrest warrant” and you get plenty of conspiracy-theory sites, gay-rights activists, atheists and fundamentalist Christians, all of whom have their own reasons for despising the Roman Catholic Church.  Legitimate news organizations, it would seem, are sitting on the story of the century.

Ground Zero for the allegations seems to be this self-styled “International Tribunal Into Crimes of Church and State,” which claims to have procured “an agreement with representatives of a European nation and its courts to secure an arrest warrant against Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict, for crimes against humanity and ordering a criminal conspiracy.”

The official-sounding ICTTS seems to be a one-man show run by Kevin Annett, a former United Church Minister turned activist for victims of Canada’s notorious residential schools for Native children.

Horrible things did indeed happen at these church-run facilities – a new report claims 3,000 children died there, in addition to untold survivors of physical and sexual abuse.  But Annett has been making inflammatory allegations for years – absolutely none of which have been proven:

…If Kevin Annett really is prize-worthy and courageous, you will also have to believe this:

-One of Canada’s most respected First Nations’ leaders is trafficking in children from Northern British Columbia in a profitable pedophilia ring that’s run out of the West Hastings Street premises of the swish Vancouver Club. His clients are Vancouver judges, politicians, and church leaders.

-Back in the 1930s, a team of German doctors arrived at the Kuper Island Indian residential school and began conducting strange medical experiments on the children. Employing large hypodermic needles, they injected some sort of toxin directly into the chests of the school’s young inmates, and several were killed as a result.

-As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, aboriginal children at a Vancouver Island medical research facility were tortured with electrodes implanted in their skulls. At least one child was beaten to death with a whip fitted with razors.

-At the Hobbema and Saddle Lake Indian residential schools in Alberta, children were incinerated in furnaces. At St. Anne’s Indian residential school in Fort Albany, Ontario, children were executed in an electric chair. At McGill University in Montreal, there is a mass grave containing the bodies of aboriginal children killed in experiments undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency’s top-secret MK-ULTRA program.

These are just a few of the stories Annett has been circulating since the early 1990s. He has failed to produce a shred of evidence. RCMP investigators who have looked into Annett’s allegations always come up empty. Some of these stories the RCMP hasn’t investigated because nobody’s reported them, for reasons Annett explains as a distrust of the police.


It all started in the early 1990s, when Annett was a promising but problematic novice minister whose first assignment was to serve the dwindling, white working-class congregation of St. Andrew’s in the mill town of Port Alberni. It wasn’t long before senior United Church officials discovered to their dismay that Annett was turning his Sunday services into something resembling a series of cathartic, guerilla-theatre testimonials about Satanic ritual abuse. The long and short of it is the United Church put its foot down. Its version of events is a matter of public record.

Annett’s version appears in his self-published Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust, his autobiographical Love and Death in the Valley, and his recently-released, 110-minute autobiographical documentary, Unrepentant: Kevin Annett and Canada’s Genocide.

If you like, you can believe that the reason 10 Canadian publishers turned down Annett’s first book, and the reason why his second book appears under the imprint of 1st Books Library, a vanity press in Bloomington, Indiana, and the reason his documentary was also produced in the United States, is that the powers that be in Canada are determined to conceal their terrible crimes.

Or, you might instead take into account the fact that Annett’s stories are the subject of Canadian court injunctions claiming libel and defamation. Annett has responded to these legal admonitions by pleading with Amnesty International for adoption as a “prisoner of conscience.” Amnesty has declined to oblige him.


It matters because the story of secret residential-school mass graves is an urban legend.

For years, RCMP investigators have been chasing down these stories and they always come up with nothing. But they persist, like the alligators in New York’s sewers.

It matters because the thousands of aboriginal people who really did suffer unspeakable torment in residential schools deserve something rather more from us than our complicity in the act of dumping their very real suffering down a rabbit hole into the same parallel universe where you’ll find alien abductions, Masonic plots, crop circles, and 9-11 conspiracies.

It matters for lots of reasons.

Annett enjoys the backing of not a single representative tribal organization, and in early April, when he released what he claims is a list of the locations of 28 mass graves of children who died in church-run residential schools, he also announced the formation of the “International Human Rights Tribunal into Genocide in Canada” to carry out its own investigations.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t suspicious about the timing and circumstances surrounding Pope Benedict’s decision to retire.  Kevin Annett could be right about why.  Or he could be a paranoid conspiracy theorist with delusions of grandeur.


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