"But I don't want to demonize the pope.... I think that, like all people, he is very concerned about anyone who has been hurt by sexual abuse at the hands of a priest. I think he is horrified," Mickens said.
Much of the criticism of the church's handling of the sex scandals has been that offending priests were simply moved to other parishes or dioceses by bishops eager to protect the church. And from 1981 to the day he became pope, Ratzinger headed the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the church's disciplinary arm.
"He is really accountable to no one, and that is the history," said former priest Richard Sipe, author of the 1990 book, "A Secret World" about the priesthood. "There have been a pope or two who have resigned, several hundred have been murdered, but it's a very stable organization from the top down. What other monarchy do you know that's lasted for 2,000 years?"
"He is untouchable, there is no question about that," Sipe said.
He added, however, "There have to be some kind of consequences. He could use his power to remove these incompetent heads and it would change the church dramatically. That's what the church needs."
Hitchens argues that if Benedict, a former cardinal and one-time archbishop of Munich, Germany, were to hold his archbishops and cardinals accountable for the priests they reassigned, he would "move toward the impeachment of himself."
"He would be calling for his own head," said Hitchens. "But, we'll do it for him."
Hitchens said the pope should not be allowed to escape scrutiny in other parts of the world where sex crimes have been committed by priests under his watch and said there should be an "international warrant" for his arrest.
"He's supposed to be going to London and there is going to be a row about it," said Hitchens.
"If another head of state was being pursued by people with questions about rape of children, would they meet them at the airport, shake their hands and meet the queen?" he asked. "Would they let them fly away again?"
Irish singer Sinead O'Connor ripped into a letter the pope wrote to the people of Ireland apologizing for the years of sexual abuse of young boys, calling it "a study in the fine art of lying."
"There should be a full criminal investigation of the pope. The pope should stand down for the fact that he did not act in a Christian fashion to protect children," she told the Los Angeles Times.
"The pope has to be held accountable," said David Clohessy, who sued the Missouri parish priest who molested him when he was 11.
"He is at the top," said Clohessy, who is now national director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
"It is totally irresponsible for him to only talk about the abuse," said Clohessy. "He is the decider."