Lifestyle & Belief

Belt up, Benedict: Man sues Pope for not wearing seat belt


Pope Benedict XVI waves to faithful from his popemobile as he arrives to celebrate a mass on a vast dusty esplanade outside Madrid during the World Youth Day (WYD) festivities on August 21, 2011.


Vincenzo Pinto

A German man is accusing the Pope of setting a poor safety example by not wearing a seat belt while touring in his Popemobile.

The unnamed citizen from Dortmund has filed a legal complaint against Pope Benedict XVI for "repeated breaches" of Germany's seat belt law during an official visit in September, reported the Irish Times.

The head of the Catholic Church was spotted riding round the city of Freiburg in his armored vehicle without a safety belt "for the duration of more than an hour," said the attorney representing the plaintiff, Johannes Christian Sundermann.

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He plans to play the court YouTube videos of the Pope's alleged infringements, and had called a German archbishop and a local government official as witnesses.

The plaintiff wants the Pope to face the maximum possible fine of €2,500 ($3,300), reported Hurriyet Daily News. The man argues:

"Seat belts save lives and the Pope should obey traffic rules."

Several other lawyers rejected the case before Sundermann accepted it, the Local said. It's likely to be a losing battle, since as a head of state, the German-born Pope benefits from diplomatic immunity on official visits to his homeland.

The Pope's raised throne in the Popemobile is believed to be fitted with a seat belt, said the Times. The customized vehicle usually travels at no more than than a few miles per hour, though can do up to 160 mph if necessary.

This video of the tour in question shows Benedict's bodyguards easily keeping up with the vehicle on foot, indicating the pontiff was not at great risk of a high-speed collision.