German man sues Pope for violating seatbelt laws by standing and waving from popemobile

A German man is suing the Pope for violating seatbelt laws on his visit to Dortmund by standing up in the back of the popemobile and waving (rather than remaining seated and buckled in, as the law apparently requires).

Sundermann's client surely does not have standing to sue to enforce the seatbelt law, and even if he did the Papst would have diplomatic immunity as a head of state. Sundermann has apparently suggested that because the defendant is still a German citizen, that wouldn't apply, but that is another argument he would lose. Sundermann has also said, unsurprisingly, that the suit is intended to increase public awareness of the seatbelt law, and is not actually "an attack on the Church." Hope God feels the same way, because a false lawsuit against the Pope is probably an Eighth Circle offense, I would guess. I know that seems harsh but I don't make the rules.

Pope Sued

(Image: 041908 166, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from dougtone's photostream)


  1. Don’t they have parade floats in Germany? Surely there must be a loophole which allows standing on a slow moving vehicle.

    1. Yeah, we have and yeah, there are. But it’s a German Law, so naturally it’s very complicated (Zere are procedures to go zrough!).
      I’m not entirely sure about all the exceptions, but *what* I know is that you’re not required to buckle up in any vehicle moving at “Schrittgeschwindigkeit” (literally “Walking speed”, it’s a legal term) and/or if you’re not in a vehicle that is required to have seatbelts (public buses, for example, are not). I’m pretty sure that covers both parade floats and the Papamobil.
      Furthermore, not buckling up is not actually a crime, but a misdemeanor, fineable by €30. Which I’m pretty much OK with.

      1. The Pope mobiles does have seat belts, as far as I know, but the case in question implies clearly that walking speed would not get exceeded and thus the seat belt rule would not apply.

        Quite sensibly.

        I still will not start the car before everybody’s buckled in, though.

    1. God never told us our faith would make us physically invincible. You do know the Popemobile came about after JPII got shot in 1981, right? 

  2. “Hope God feels the same way, because a false lawsuit against the Pope is probably an Eighth Circle offense, I would guess. I know that seems harsh but I don’t make the rules.”
    Really depends on which version of God we’re talking about; Old Testament “Fire and Brimstone” God, or the new-age Hippy God

  3. well, the German word used in the German articles is “anzeigen”, which means “to report” and not “to sue”. And according to a well-known legal principle in Germany you can report pretty much everything you want to the police, it will just get thrown out once they find no actual lawbreaking has taken place. Imagine that process with the glowering stares of policemen fully aware that you are wasting their time.

    1. Knowing German policemen, they were probably silently amused and professional about it. I guess and average day on the force in Dortmund is brightened considerably by somebody reporting the pope for a traffic fine.

  4. “Hope God feels the same way, because a false lawsuit against the Pope is probably an Eighth Circle offense, I would guess. I know that seems harsh but I don’t make the rules.”

    I would be very surprised if she cared whether the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle was wearing his seat belt in a vehicle that rolls at about 5kph.

    1. Not sure how the law works in Germany but I’d be surprised if it lacked the concept of standing.

      Anglo-Saxon Common Law and Salic/Napoleonic Law have quite a few differences.

  5. Is anyone suing the pope for complicity in molesting tens of thousands of children worldwide?  Oh wait, diplomatic immunity… rats.

  6. Hey, I’m all for this guy. If people want to create nanny-state laws, they ought to at least enforce them equally. :)

  7. Sheesh (can’t very well write Jeez can I) – I agree – imagine something rammed him from behind.  It would be in poor taste for me to draw any parallels to choir boys. *balls* hail mary hail mary

  8. First, he is not suing – he reported the Pope for a “moving violation” … however, the pope is a protected by diplomatic immunity anyway, so this is a non-starter. But yes – my hometown is full of pissants. At least the cops did not pepperspray the guy …

  9. The city decided not to pursue this as this particular road had been closed to general traffic that day, and hence the traffic code was not in effect. So the pope did not break any law or code by not wearing a seatbelt.

  10. In Australia, not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle is a crime against the driver of the vehicle. Recently the Queen visited and didn’t wear a seatbelt – technically the driver should have been fined. 

  11. It’s kind of moot. Germany is like the U.S. the Pope is the head of state so isn’t subject ot the laws of Germany nor the U.S. 

  12. I am from Dortmund and I am pretty shure that the Pope never visited our town in his “papamobil”. Maybe the reporting refers to another town, Freiburg perhaps?

Comments are closed.