A RESPONSE TO THE SUNDAY
Ratzinger a Nazi? Don't Believe It!
Note: the following is from the Jerusalem Post,
written in response to an article that appeared
in the Sunday Times (London) on April 17, 2005.
By Sam Ser, THE JERUSALEM
POST Apr. 18, 2005
London's Sunday Times would
have us believe that one of the leading
contenders for the papacy is a closet Nazi. In
if-only-they-knew tones, the newspaper informs
readers that German-born Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth during
World War II and suggests that, because of this,
the "panzer cardinal" would be quite a
contrast to his predecessor, John Paul II.
The article also classifies
Ratzinger as a "theological
anti-Semite" for believing in Jesus so
strongly that gasp! he thinks that
everyone, even Jews, should accept him as the
To all this we should say,
"This is news?!"
As the Sunday Times article
admits, Ratzinger's membership in the Hitler
Youth was not voluntary but compulsory; also
admitted are the facts that the cardinal
only a teenager during the period in question
was the son of an anti-Nazi policeman,
that he was given a dispensation from Hitler
Youth activities because of his religious
studies, and that he deserted the German army.
Ratzinger has several times
gone on record on his supposedly
"problematic" past. In the 1997 book
Salt of the Earth, Ratzinger is asked whether he
was ever in the Hitler Youth.
"At first we
weren't," he says, speaking of himself and
his older brother, "but when the compulsory
Hitler Youth was introduced in 1941, my brother
was obliged to join. I was still too young, but
later as a seminarian, I was registered in the
Hitler Youth. As soon as I was out of the
seminary, I never went back. And that was
difficult because the tuition reduction, which I
really needed, was tied to proof of attendance at
the Hitler Youth.
"Thank goodness there
was a very understanding mathematics professor.
He himself was a Nazi, but an honest man, and
said to me, 'Just go once to get the document so
we have it...' When he saw that I simply didn't
want to, he said, 'I understand, I'll take care
of it' and so I was able to stay free of
Ratzinger says this again in
his own memoirs, printed in 1998. In his 2002
biography of the cardinal, John Allen, Jr. of the
National Catholic Reporter wrote in detail about
The only significant
complaint that the Times makes against
Ratzinger's wartime conduct is that he resisted
quietly and passively, rather than having done
something drastic enough to earn him a trip to a
concentration camp. Of course, whenever it is
said that a German failed the
exceptional-resistance-to-the-Nazis test, it
would behoove us all to recognize that too many
Jews failed it, as well.
If he were truly a Nazi
sympathizer, then it would undoubtedly have
become evident during the past 60 years. Yet
throughout his service in the church, Ratzinger
has distinguished himself in the field of
As prefect of the Doctrine of
the Faith, Ratzinger played an instrumental role
in the Vatican's revolutionary reconciliation
with the Jews under John Paul II. He personally
prepared Memory and Reconciliation, the 2000
document outlining the church's historical
"errors" in its treatment of Jews. And
as president of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission, Ratzinger oversaw the preparation of
The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in
the Christian Bible, a milestone theological
explanation for the Jews' rejection of Jesus.
If that's theological
anti-Semitism, then we should only be so lucky to
"suffer" more of the same.
As for the Hitler Youth
issue, not even Yad Vashem has considered it
worthy of further investigation. Why should we?
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