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Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, 2003
Source: Wikipedia
Photographer: Marian Lambert
The question of Joseph Ratzinger's involvement with Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth is important. Neither Ratzinger nor any member of his immediate family joined the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Ratzinger's father was critical of the Nazi government and as a result the family had to move four times. None of this is remarkable, however, because the same happened with other German Catholic families. There is reason to think that Joseph Ratzinger has been less than fully candid about his past, though.

 

Read Article: Was Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) A Nazi?

Comments
January 14, 2008 at 12:43 pm
(1) Heisenberg76 says:

Do mean to imply that those Germans who failed to get themselves into serious, documentable trouble with the Nazis (e.g. imprisonment) are somehow unworthy and of inferior character?
More than 99% of the Germans who were alive 1933-45 would fail your criterion. You are in no position to expect of every German other than Dietrich Bonhoefer, the Scholl siblings and Oskar Schindler to repent that they did not do enough. Your article is a prejudiced piece of insult to Germans in general.

January 14, 2008 at 9:49 pm
(2) Eric says:

I don’t think he’s saying that. I think it would make you an average person. But the thing is, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is the pope. We expect more from the pope than the average person. Generally speaking, Austin is not accusing the pope of being morally deficient for not doing more to resist the Nazis so much as he is accusing him of being dishonest in his characterization of his past. Ratzinger makes it sound like it was impossible to do any more than he did to resist. We know that this is not the case. He should be honest about his inaction when he could have done more. We should expect someone who claims to be a moral authority for over a billion people to have done more than an average person.

April 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm
(3) Greg says:

It is amazing that if there is any conceivable option that someone of the present thinks could have been done, then it must have been possible for someone in the past.
Ridiculous and insane.
For such research, it should be sufficient that he and his family resisted Nazism and that there is strong indication that he and his family were willing to suffer personal setbacks to resist (i.e. reduce his chances in the Seminary, move 4 times, become a deserter).
The scruples you lay on those who would be Pope or those who vote for a Pope could not be met by Jesus Christ himself appointing Peter as the 1st Pope.

April 12, 2010 at 5:48 pm
(4) Austin Cline says:

It is amazing that if there is any conceivable option that someone of the present thinks could have been done, then it must have been possible for someone in the past.

What’s amazing is that you think anyone has claimed this.

The scruples you lay on those who would be Pope or those who vote for a Pope could not be met by Jesus Christ himself appointing Peter as the 1st Pope.

Feel free to show how, if you can.

April 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm
(5) Larian LeQuella says:

I could care less what he did in WWII era germany. What he is (not) doing now is much worse. So far he has been irresponsibly quiet on the sex abuse scandal. And he has incompetent boobs saying the most incredibly insane things.

Only par for the course though I would guess.

April 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm
(6) Cristin Chall says:
April 13, 2010 at 11:17 am
(7) fauxrs says:

Itís certainly understandable that he wouldnít have had the courage to do more and, were he any average person, that would be the end of the story. But he isnít an average person, is he? Heís the pope, a person who is supposed to be the successor of Peter, head of the Christian Church, and symbol of unity for all Christendom.

Let be fair, he isnt average now but he wasnt the Pope when he was 14….14 !! just what do we expect of a teenager in this case.

I think its fair to say he was an average person then and thus I believe it unfair to judge his actions based on the fact that some 60 or so years later he became the Pope.

Far more important than what he may or may not have done as a child in WWII is what he has done as both Cardinal and Pope, and of course I’m talking about his continuing inaction regarding pedophile preists.

As far as I am concerned what he did, claims he did or didnt do, whether he remembers accurately or not about those years really doesnt matter in the least. We all know that Christians say one thing and do another, they claim to be about love and forgiveness but will happily condemn people to hell and deprive them of rights simply because their bronze age book implies something about them. No whats far more important is what he has done since he gained some power, not what he did before his voice changed.

April 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm
(8) Austin Cline says:

Let be fair, he isnt average now but he wasnt the Pope when he was 14Ö.14 !! just what do we expect of a teenager in this case.

I think its fair to say he was an average person then and thus I believe it unfair to judge his actions based on the fact that some 60 or so years later he became the Pope.

In order to be fair, you should include what I wrote next:

You donít have to be morally perfect to hold such a position, but itís not unreasonable to expect such a person to have come to terms with their moral failings, even the moral failings that occurred in youth when we donít usually expect a great deal. It was an understandable mistake or failing not to do more against the Nazis, but still a failing that he hasnít come to terms with ó it sounds rather like he is in denial. In a sense, he has yet to repent; yet he was still considered the best of all the candidates for the papacy.

So I’m not arguing that a pope had to be perfect as a teenager because we don’t expect teenagers to be perfect. When a person does reach the papacy, however, we should expect more ó and specifically in this case that “more” should include coming to terms with all of ones understandable human failings. The criticism you quoted wasn’t a criticism of a 14-year-old who was less than perfect decades ago, but of an adult today who should be expected to acknowledge the ways in which he was less than perfect decades ago.

Far more important than what he may or may not have done as a child in WWII is what he has done as both Cardinal and Pope, and of course Iím talking about his continuing inaction regarding pedophile preists.

I would argue that such a monumental failure to come to terms or even fully acknowledge one’s own failings in the past is a big warning sign that this person will have a lot of trouble dealing with moral failings in themselves and others today. Both the Nazi issue and the pedophilia issue involve, in part, people who place loyalty and obedience to authorities, preservation of institutions and systems, and keeping out of trouble above basic moral principles which are risky to defend.

So I don’t think that this can all be entirely separated into distinct, unrelated problems. For centuries the Catholic Church abused and oppressed Jews then denied its culpability for the Holocaust, direct or indirect. For centuries (or decades, if you just want to go with proven legal cases) Catholic priests have been raping children while the church authorities have been covering it up but now the leaders want to deny any culpability.

No whats far more important is what he has done since he gained some power, not what he did before his voice changed.

And, as the original article states, one of the things he has done since he gained some power is avoid confronting some of choices he made before his voice changed ó choices which inevitably helped shape the sort of person he has become.

April 13, 2010 at 1:53 pm
(9) Claudia says:

I also believe that the Catholic Church has done a lot in the past to cover up various forms of sexual abuse. This Pope is certainly one to come clean on the matter. We know that he is ultra conservative and protectionist of the Church.

April 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm
(10) MikeC says:

Claudia says: I also believe that the Catholic Church has done a lot in the past to cover up various forms of sexual abuse.

This is no longer a matter of belief, it’s been proven by Church documents.

April 25, 2010 at 6:23 am
(11) Mike says:

Ratzinger’s membership in the Hitlerjugend by itself is not such a momentous event, but it is symbolic of the entire Catholic church’s conduct and politics during the Nazi era, which was one of political opportunism and sympathizing, and subsequently, attempts to silence, rewrite history, and blame others.

While the Pope goes around blaming the Nazi atrocities on atheists, the Nazis were predominantly Catholic and had Christianity and Catholic values written into their political program. Communists and homosexuals were carted off to concentration camps, with the moral imprimatur of the Catholic church. And while there were some individual Catholics and priests who opposed the Nazis, by and large, the Vatican and the higher church officials accommodated and, in many cases, approved of, the Nazi regime.

June 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm
(12) cantueso says:

I have never seen a good definition of “nazi”. I read Susan Sonntag’s famous article on that, and I remember she comes close to identifying a death wish in that ideology.

How would you define? Unless you know of a pretty sharp definition of “nazi”, you can’t really use that label, can you?

I think Sonntag was right, but her text is longish. There might be a better approach in Nazi aesthetics, those immense horizons, buildings, all proportions.

But some of those things for instance in Speer look modern and are the farthest thing from Ratzinger indeed.

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