A German lawyer, Johann Christian Sundermann, has filed a misdemeanor complaint against Pope Benedict XVI (“Mr. Joseph Ratzinger”) for not wearing his seat belt during his visit to his homeland in September.
On Sept. 24 and 25, the complaint filed in the city of Freiburg states, the pontiff “each for a period of more than an hour” flaunted a law requiring the use of seat belts in moving vehicles — like the popemobile. If the complaint succeeds, Pope Benedict could be fined anywhere between 30 and 2,500 euros ($40-$3,331).
But it won’t, most observers agree. If nothing else, despite his original German nationality, the pontiff enjoys sovereign immunity as the head of a foreign state.
The suit’s possible motive? According to a report in the Westfälischen Rundschau newspaper, Sundermann proudly acknowledges he formally renounced membership in the Catholic Church when he was 18.