Panzer Cardinal Selected as Pope

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Panzer Cardinal Selected as Pope

Unread postby Kai » Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:41 pm, ... e_continue

Profile: Joseph Ratzinger
From Hitler Youth to the Vatican
Bavarian who deserted Wehrmacht was a liberal but turned to conservatism in face of 1968 student rebellions

Stephen Bates and John Hooper in Rome
Wednesday April 20, 2005
The Guardian

Joseph Ratzinger was not always considered a reactionary. Born in 1927 in Marktl am Inn, the first German pope for nearly 1,000 years comes from the country's traditionalist Catholic heartland, Bavaria.

His father was a police officer from a family of farmers whose career suffered because he refused to become a Nazi. The young Ratzinger served briefly and unenthusiastically with the Hitler Youth and later with a German army anti-aircraft unit guarding the BMW factory in Munich. He says he never fired a shot.

Article continues
Ratzinger has defended himself from criticism of his war record by claiming - not strictly truthfully - that he could not have avoided military service in the circumstances. Others did and maybe he could have used his training in a seminary to dodge the call-up.

But there is no doubt that his heart was not in his military service and he deserted in April 1944, ending the war in an American prisoner of war camp.

Ordained with his older brother, Georg, in 1951, Ratzinger was a liberal theological adviser at the Second Vatican Council in Rome but became a conservative after the 1968 student movement prompted him to defend the faith against secularism.

In his autobiography, he wrote how he realised he was increasingly out of step with his fellow Germans as early as the 1960s.

"I found the mood in the church and among theologians to be agitated," he recalled. "More and more there was the impression that nothing stood fast in the church, that everything was up for revision."

He has written a number of books and within hours of his election as pope yesterday, several leapt up the Amazon bestseller list, including Salt of the Earth, The Ratzinger Report, Introduction to Christianity, and his memoirs, Milestones, which cover his life until 1977.

It was in 1977 he became archbishop of Munich and a cardinal. He was one of only two cardinals in the conclave that ended yesterday to have been elevated by John Paul's predecessor but one, Paul VI.

In 1981, Pope John Paul called him to Rome to take over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is the department that was once known as the Holy Inquisition.

Ratzinger's defence of conservative orthodoxy has been part of his job. But it has not made him popular, especially in more progressive corners of the faith.

An opinion poll in the German newspaper Der Spiegel found opponents of his election as pope outnumbering supporters by 36% to 29%.

It was an open secret before the conclave that all but two of the German bishops were opposed to his candidacy.

In western Europe and North America, in particular, there is an acute perception that the church is losing ground and needs to reinvigorate its flock with a less uncompromising hostility to the outside world.

In Latin America, he disciplined the advocates of "liberation theology" and cracked down on Asian priests who saw non-Christian religions as part of God's plan for humanity.

Before the death of Pope John Paul, his theological watchdog spoke passionately of the need to clean up the "filth" in the church, an allusion to successive child abuse scandals involving clerics. His remark held out hope that he would tackle vigorously one of the church's most pressing problems.

However, he has himself been accused by campaigners of shielding a prominent alleged paedophile.

The softly spoken Bavarian, who is an accomplished pianist with a fondness for Mozart, turned 78 last Saturday, but is in apparently excellent health.

Three years ago, he became dean of the College of Cardinals, a position which made him the key figure in the interregnum between popes and enabled him to exert immense influence on his fellow cardinals as they prepared to choose the next pontiff.

At Pope John Paul's funeral, he impressed his listeners by deftly balancing solemnity and populism in his homily. He drew roars from the crowd when he pointed to the window from which the late pope had delivered his blessings, saying: "We can be sure our beloved Pope is now at the window of the house of his Father and he sees us and he blesses us."

Days later, he seized the initiative again at the mass immediately before the start of the conclave when he inveighed against the moral relativism of today's society. In what was seen by Vatican insiders as a blatant campaign speech, he warned the church to withstand the "tides of trends and latest novelties".

Clearly, his fellow cardinals were listening hard.

But when looking at his life so far, it is hard to know which is more memorable: the things that have been said about Ratzinger or what he has himself said.

Five years ago, a former colleague in the theological faculty of Tübingen University, Hans Küng, whom he banned from teaching on the church's behalf in 1979, described a document published by Cardinal Ratzinger's department in the Vatican as "a hotch-potch of medieval backwardness and folie de grandeur".

He was referring to the document Dominus Jesus issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, which, in highly unecumenical language, described other Christian faiths and world religions as "deficient or not quite real churches". When the Lutherans complained, the future Benedict XVI dismissed their objections as "absurd".

Another liberal Catholic and former priest, the late Peter Hebblethwaite, called him "the big, bad wolf of the new Inquisition ... For some, the thought [of his becoming pope] is just too terrible to contemplate. To have him as pope would be inconceivably divisive, runs the common wisdom."

It is not just people who do not believe in Roman Catholicism who attract the new pope's ire. Four years ago, he wrote that rock music was "the expression of elemental passions which, in the big musical festivals, have taken on a cultural character, that is to say, [the character] of a counter-cult, opposed to Christian worship".

Only this week, he declared that "having a clear faith based on the creed of the church is often labelled today as fundamentalism. Relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching, looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards."

Small wonder that the 78-year-old German has won nicknames such as God's Rottweiler and the Panzer Cardinal. Even Corriere della Sera, the voice of the Italian moderate right, which is normally deeply respectful of the church hierarchy, recently labelled him "Cardinal No".

For the past 24 years, he has headed the Vatican "ministry" responsible for defending and enforcing Catholic orthodoxy, particularly in the world's theological faculties.

Ratzinger once denied being "the Grand Inquisitor".

However, under his guidance, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a stream of hardline instructions and rebukes.

The hand of the new pope has been seen in most of the more reactionary proclamations made by the Vatican in the final years of John Paul II's papacy, as his health waned.

They sometimes took away the breath of the more progressive elements in the church: from denouncing homosexuality as intrinsically evil, to suggesting that parishes should limit the use of female altar servers and choristers. <p>-------------------------
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Re: Panzer Cardinal Selected as Pope

Unread postby Zemyla » Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:19 am

It's a step backwards.

However, he is 78, so I don't see him reigning as long as John Paul II. <p>-----
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Re: Panzer Cardinal Selected as Pope

Unread postby pd Rydia » Wed Apr 20, 2005 2:12 pm

Fuck this is a lot of stuff...

The part I like best is where 3/4 of U.S. Catholics don't really want to be Catholic anyway.

I must admit to not liking this. At all. Blah. =/ Man, though, talk about bias in some of these articles...


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Poll: U.S. Catholics likely to follow 'conscience'

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Nearly three-quarters of American Catholics say they are more likely to follow their own conscience on "difficult moral questions," rather than the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. At the same time, most of those polled said they did not know enough about the new pope to form an opinion about him. The poll was conducted with 616 U.S. Catholics, hours after Pope Benedict XVI was named the successor to Pope John Paul II. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Seventy-four percent of the respondents said they were more likely to follow their own conscience on tough moral questions, while 20 percent said they were more likely to "follow the teachings" of the new pope.

About two-thirds of those polled, 65 percent, expressed confidence in Pope Benedict XVI's potential ability to handle sexual abuse scandals, although 26 percent said they didn't have much confidence in him on that issue.

In addition, more than half of those polled, 56 percent, said they were bothered by the pope's opposition to birth control. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters, 72 percent, said the age of the 78-year-old pope didn't bother them.

Asked their opinion about the new pope, 60 percent said they did not know enough about him, while 31 percent said they had a "favorable" opinion and 9 percent said they had an "unfavorable" opinion.

Nearly half of those polled, 48 percent, said they were unsure what direction he would lead the Church. Thirty-nine percent said they felt he would move the Church in the right direction, compared to 13 percent who said he would take it in the wrong direction.

Sixty-one percent said they felt he would "unite the Church," while 19 percent said they felt he would "divide the Church."

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New pope intervened against Kerry in US 2004 election campaign

Tue Apr 19, 6:20 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican theologian who was elected Pope Benedict XVI, intervened in the 2004 US election campaign ordering bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters including presidential candidate John Kerry.

In a June 2004 letter to US bishops enunciating principles of worthiness for communion recipients, Ratzinger specified that strong and open supporters of abortion should be denied the Catholic sacrament, for being guilty of a "grave sin."

He specifically mentioned "the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws," a reference widely understood to mean Democratic candidate Kerry, a Catholic who has defended abortion rights.

The letter said a priest confronted with such a person seeking communion "must refuse to distribute it."

A footnote to the letter also condemned any Catholic who votes specifically for a candidate because the candidate holds a pro-abortion position. Such a voter "would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy communion," the letter read.

The letter, which was revealed in the Italian magazine L'Espresso last year, was reportedly only sent to US Catholic bishops, who discussed it in their convocation in Denver, Colorado, in mid-June.

Sharply divided on the issue, the bishops decided to leave the decision on granting or denying communion to the individual priest. Kerry later received communion several times from sympathetic priests.

Nevertheless, in the November election, a majority of Catholic voters, who traditionally supported Democratic Party candidates, shifted their votes to Republican and eventual winner George W. Bush.

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Profile of the new Pope
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a former prisoner of war and known as John Paul II's ideological "enforcer", is seen as a deeply conservative choice to lead the Roman Catholic faith.

The 78-year-old German will be known as Pope Benedict XVI and had been widely tipped to succeed to the role after spending two decades as a Vatican insider. Slight and white-haired, some regarded him as too old for the post and claim he will act only as a short-term "transitional" Pontiff. However, his supporters pointed to his wide experience as John Paul II`s closest advisor and his status as a theological heavyweight.

As a Cardinal, he often clashed with moderates and liberals in his native Germany, earning him the nickname "Panzerkardinal". At the Vatican, Ratzinger was often dubbed "vice Pope" and "John Paul III". He criticised the introduction of the non-Latin Mass as a "tragic breach" and in the 1980s dubbed homosexuality an "intrinsic moral evil" and said rock music could be a "vehicle of anti-religion". In 1981, Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) - an organisation once known as the Inquisition and responsible for torture and mass murder in the middle ages - and has since stamped his rigorous theological conservatism on the Church. It is claimed that he saw his mission as defending Catholic teaching following liberal moves after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. He had public disagreements with moderate German Cardinal Walter Kaspe and has also been accused of prompting decrees from Rome barring Catholic priests from counselling pregnant teenagers about choices available to them. Others claim he blocked German Catholics from sharing communion with Lutherans at a joint gathering in 2003. Cardinal Ratzinger is seen as having the same connection with his homeland as John Paul II enjoyed with his native Poland.

He was born in April 1927 in Marktl Am Inn, Bavaria, to staunchly anti-Nazi parents named Joseph and Mary and joined a preparatory seminary in Traunstein in 1939. It was there he saw the harrowing years of Nazi rule - forced at one point to join the Hitler Youth - and endured the early stages of the Second World War. He was eventually drafted as an assistant to a Nazi anti-aircraft unit in spite of his family`s efforts to avoid conscription in 1943 and sent to Munich. In May 1945 he deserted - risking being shot on the spot if found - but was seized by US soldiers and held in a POW camp for several weeks. Ratzinger is said to have hitched a ride home on a milk truck and was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951.

He spent several years teaching theology before he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and months later elevated to cardinal by Pope Paul VI - the same pope who elevated Pope John Paul II. Reverend Thomas Frauenlob, who heads the Traunstein seminary, said: "What Wadowice was for John Paul, Bavaria is for Ratzinger. He has very deep roots here, it`s his home." An accomplished pianist who has a fondness for Mozart, Ratzinger also speaks several languages, including Italian, English and his native German. While some hope he will prove a saviour of the Church in what they consider an increasingly secular world, to others he is an authoritarian who punishes liberal thought.

"I find it hurtful to see him described as a hard-liner," said Rev Frauenlob. "People are too quick to say that, it`s not an accurate reflection of his personality."

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Cardinals' Detractors Hang 'Dirty Laundry'

Associated Press Writer

April 18, 2005, 6:11 PM EDT

VATICAN CITY -- Accusations of involvement in kidnappings of priests in Argentina dog one papal contender. "Revelations" about Nazi links surface about another top candidate. Gossipy items about health problems raise doubts about others.

Like a U.S. presidential campaign, the run-up to the election of a pope has seen some dirty laundry hung out in public, and it's not the cardinals' red socks that are getting an airing.

Among the "princes of the church" being targeted was German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of Pope John Paul II's most trusted aides and a man some Vatican watchers have put in pole position in the race to be pope. Journalists have been poking around Ratzinger's teenage years during World War II, apparently searching for evidence of any pro-Nazi sentiment.

And on Friday, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was cited in a criminal complaint alleging involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two fellow Jesuits during Argentina's dark years of military dictatorship. The cardinal's spokesman called the allegation by a human rights lawyer "old slander."

Closet doors are being yanked open in efforts to shape the fortunes of those in the conclave, which began Monday with a first, inconclusive vote. Also being swept out in the search for dirt are purported health problems.

The Corriere della Sera's daily column on the rise and fall of pre-conclave fortunes noted the "small pieces of gossip tossed out there with apparent nonchalance but which translate into little bombs."

Among the potential bombshells was an item in the communist daily Il Manifesto that Venice Cardinal Angelo Scola's future "could be burned for health reasons" over allegations he suffers strong headaches and "nervous depression."

Cardinals and their aides closely monitor the Italian media. But now that they have been sequestered in Vatican City since Sunday night, the electors aren't allowed to follow the news under strict rules set by John Paul to discourage outside influence.

Other Italian reports said Bombay Cardinal Ivan Dias, who is seen as a long-shot candidate, has diabetes. They later reported that a priest who spoke with the 69-year-old Dias said the reports were wrong.

Several reports noted that the former archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, has a tremor that could be a sign of Parkinson's, the disease John Paul suffered from in his last years. Martini has been widely mentioned as a possible "anti-candidate" to counter Ratzinger. The German cardinal is a hero to doctrinal conservatives, while liberal camps are supposedly rooting for Martini, who is considered more open-minded. The 78-year-old Bavarian prelate is the supposed favorite of cardinals leaning toward an elderly figure to lead the church for likely just a few years while churchmen try to absorb the legacy of John Paul's 26 years at the helm.

A Sunday Times of London profile on Ratzinger, saying his doctrinal watchdog role has earned him uncomplimentary nicknames like "God's rottweiler," reported on the cardinal's "brief membership" in the Hitler Youth movement and service, in the final stretch of World War II, in a German anti-aircraft unit. In his memoirs, Ratzinger speaks openly of being enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He says he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood. Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper, a common fate for teenage boys too young to be soldiers. Enrolled as a soldier at 18, in the last months of the war, he barely finished basic training.

Ratzinger's wartime past "may return to haunt him," the British paper wrote on the eve of the conclave's start.

Web sites, presumably propelled by Ratzinger supporters, churned out articles in his defense, including one by the Jerusalem Post seeking to knock down much of the Times' harsh description of the cardinal's background.

Also sharply attacked in recent days has been another Italian contender, Milan Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, with detractors insisting he isn't the down-to-the bone conservative many see him as.

But Tettamanzi's star was already seen as falling years ago by those whose credo is the oft-cited Italian proverb: "He who enters the conclave a pope comes out a cardinal." That camp contends the buzz on Tettamanzi began too soon to sustain enough support for him into the conclave.

Similarly, some suspect that reports Ratzinger had gained wide consensus in the days ahead of the vote were a tactic by those who wanted to shoot down his star. With cardinals refusing interviews in the last days before the conclave, none of the Italian reports cited any sources.

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

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News From The U.S. Election Reform Movement
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Former Hitler Youth, Nicknamed "God's Rottweiler," Selected As Next Pope, Future of Catholicism Among Members of the Next Generation Gravely in Doubt

According to Conservative Newspaper, Radical Backward-Thinking Theologian Once Called The Enlightenment "A Thorn in Our [The Church's] Side"; Also, Called Protestant Churches "Deficient," Homosexuality a "Disorder," and Said That Humans Have "No Conceivable Right" to Gay Sex Between Consenting Adults; Of Hate Crimes Legislation, Said That "Neither the Church Nor Society at Large Should Be Surprised" When Such Legislation Causes "Violent Reactions [Against Gays to] Increase"


In a move certain to further alienate and anger non-practicing, lapsed, and semi-practicing Catholics the world over, the Catholic Church--whose pre-1970 history of anti-Semitism is matched in its audacity only by the Church's sorry history of appeasing Hitler--has selected a former member of the World War II-era Hitler Youth to be the next Pope.

Of new Pope Joseph Ratzinger's wartime membership in the fascist organization, the man's biographer could only note that said participation was "brief," "unenthusiastic," and, according to the biography, mandatory. [Article].

This account of Ratzinger's early years is contradicted by at least one of his acquaintances from that time, Elizabeth Lohner, 84, of Traunstein, who told The Sunday Times recently that "[i]t was possible to resist [entering the Hitler Youth], and those people set an example for others. The Ratzingers were young and they had made a different choice." According to The Guardian, the Sunday Times of London said prior to the conclave that "Ratzinger's wartime past 'may return to haunt him.'" [Article].

[EDITOR'S NOTE I (4/19/05): Ratzinger also fought briefly for the Nazis as part of an anti-aircraft unit charged with killing Allied pilots, leading at least this observer to note that while wartime is always a time of confusion and strange bedfellows, it is quite rarely the case that any one of these bedfellows ends up as God's representative on Earth. As least not when all of the said bedfellows are Nazis, and the papal candidate in question is occasionally referred to by his peers (albeit behind his back) as "The Enforcer" and "Panzerkardinal," a reference to the infamous Nazi-era tank].

While such a history presents little obstacle to minority outreach for a man such as, say, former Klansman Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)--because Byrd's politics are now identifiably progressive and minority-friendly--the same cannot be said for Ratzinger, who has taken the name Benedict XVI.

Indeed, Benedict, for his part, has a history of rhetoric, policy, and dogma roughly consistent with the hard-line past which now haunts him as Pope, acting as "the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination." [See here for more].

Ratzinger angered Jews worldwide as recently as 1987, when he stated that Jewish history and scripture reach fulfillment only in Christ, a statement many Jews received as anti-Semitic. [Article].

In 2000, Ratzinger managed to insult several hundred million Protestants by publicly calling their churches "deficient." [Article].

One of the new Pope's most bizarre obsessions is the (to his mind) dangerous and disruptive notion of "relativism," a meaningless term which is largely used, both in religious and secular walks, as a code for opposing any and all human progress, whether it be moral, legal, scientific, ethical, political, spiritual, biological, medical, or philosophical.

Said Ratzinger at the recent funeral of Pope John Paul II, " letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' [and] looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards....We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires."

In fact, the sort of "relativism" now decried and derided by Benedict XVI was the same Enlightenment-spurred, ever-questioning "wind of teaching" which brought mankind Darwinism, the combustion engine, pasteurization, robotics, space travel, penicillin, and potty-training, as well as an end to religious witch-burnings, the Crusades, professional exorcists, and medical-care-by-leech.

But who's keeping track?

Should the world really be so concerned that the planet's most prominent Catholic once called The Enlightenment--the dawn of science and reason among humans--"a thorn in our [the Church's] side?"

In a word, "yes."

Like many ardent, unapologetic conservatives, Ratzinger "shifted to the right after the student revolutions of 1968," one presumes because they represented a legal positivist view of both morality and the law, as opposed to a perverse form of natural law in which some persons (women, gays, those needing stem-cell cures, and at various points in history blacks, Jews, and all non-Christians) are irretrievably screwed.

In a recent speech at Monday's public mass, Ratzinger issued this thinly-veiled middle finger to the forces of progressivism in the Church: "Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism."

The presumption that Catholics who (like, say, our born-again Protestant President) oppose religious "fundamentalism" somehow do not have a "clear faith" or a strong belief in the "creed of the church" is as archaic, insulting, and downright backward as it is preposterous. Indeed, the notion that the Catholic Church, via Benedict XVI, will now continue to offer the women of the world nothing more than salvation at death, and disrespect and disregard in life, bodes ill for the future of one of the world's greatest and most-admired religions.

On the bright side, conservatives, finally recognizing one of their own in the Vatican, may actually begin liberally quoting this new Pope in support of their draconian foreign and domestic policies, with the obvious exception, of course, of the death penalty, an issue on which the Right has been urinating on the walls of the Vatican for almost eighty years now.

The selection of Ratzinger reifies the substantial disconnect, however, between moderate Catholics (particularly in the U.S.) and the Vatican, suggesting that the gathered cardinals who elevated Ratzinger had no earthly clue (no pun intended) how to drive the Church forward, rather than into the ground, when they made their impossibly wrong-headed decision. Unlike their hard-Right superiors in Rome, American Catholics overwhelmingly supported the selection of a Pope more progressive than John Paul II as opposed to one more conservative (33% to 4%), and currently support the use of birth control (78%), allowing priests to marry (63%), a progressive stance on stem-cell research (59%), allowing women into the clergy (55%), the right of Catholics to divorce (by a plurality of 49%), and did support--prior to the Vatican bombshell announced today which rendered such support irrelevant--the idea that the next Holy Father might come from Latin America (85%), Africa (80%), or Asia (78%).

Instead, it's a Rightist hard-liner from Germany, which undoubtedly puts most Jews, women, gays, and moderate Catholics more in mind of the 20th Century than the 21st Century, a fact which Ratzinger's dubious and poorly-explained history--coupled with an adulthood of dogmatic radicalism--does absolutely nothing to mitigate.

While The Nashua Advocate is not so unreasonable as to presume Benedict's participation in the Hitler Youth was entirely due to any like-mindedness between Benedict and the Nazis--nor that said participation is an automatic disqualifier to being Pope--The Advocate must wonder, however, how the Church's sordid history of anti-Semitism (recently, but only imperfectly remedied) could possibly justify a finding that the best selection among scores of potential papal candidates was an individual who not only joined Hitler's youth army in his childhood and actually fought in the Nazi infantry but who has, since that time, perpetrated a relentless and unyielding right-wing dogma upon his followers and his Church, earning him Nazi-related epithets even within that ecclesiastical cloister.

Was breaking with the past so difficult for the Conclave of Cardinals?

Was seeking a connection with the future--the hundreds of millions of Catholics under thirty who are substantially more progressive than their parents--so devastatingly complicated that the conclave charged with doing so should fail in its task this miserably?

Religious Catholics may find the title of this article alarming, even inflammatory--what they must realize, however, is that whatever the pragmatic reality of having a new, hard-line, Rightist Pope in the Vatican, the sound which echoes today in the ears of women, of Jews, of gays, of progressives, of non-practicing Catholics, of lapsed Catholics, of progressive Catholics, of dissident theologians, of semi-practicing Catholics, of married priests, of anyone who ever saw religion as something more of a prescription for living than a proscription against living (Ratzinger is also variously called "The Grand Inquisitor" and "Cardinal No"), is precisely as alarmed as The Advocate has implied with its bold, blunt, and unyielding tag-line above:

"Former Hitler Youth, Nicknamed 'God's Rottweiler,' Selected As Next Pope, Future of Catholicism Among Members of the Next Generation Gravely in Doubt."

[EDITOR'S NOTE II (4/19/05): How long before even moderate Catholics begin referring to Benedict XVI as "the B-16 [bomber]" which levelled the Church? Even staunch conservative Andrew Sullivan is predicting that Ratzinger's elevation is the harbinger of "a coming civil war within Catholicism." Says the widely-published Sullivan, "[t]he space for dissidence [in the Church], previously tiny, is now extinct. And the attack on individual political freedom is just beginning." Predictably, conservatives' cannabalistic, vaguely homophobic assault on Sullivan has already begun].

posted by News Editor at 4/19/2005 07:09:00 AM


* Sen. Robert "KKK" Byrd (D-WV) // By Anonymous, at 2:46 PM

* Good job headlining an article with a person's flaws when he was thirteen years old. / Also, kudos on assuming the agenda of a man who has only done his job by interpreting Church doctrine. / I am actually disturbed that there are still souls out there who believe that God's will should be determined by popular opinion rather than Divine Inspiration. Curiously, it's popular opinion that led to the systematic elimination of the Jews during World War II (Hitler had, after all, been elected by popular vote). // By Anonymous, at 2:55 PM

* When one follows your arguments, the Pope at the age of 10 made a political decision to join the “Hitler Youth”. The statement is just silly and caters to the uninformed. The “Hitler Youth” was an equivalent to the Boy’s Scouts. They got together mainly to explore nature, make campfires and compete in games. Of course leaders were eager to corrupt the youngsters. But stating that the Pope is carrying a political burden because he was in the “Hitler Youth” (at the age of ten) is just like too simple and inflammatory. Let the history rest and lets move on. Sometimes people who eagerly point the finger have something to hide themselves. / Juergen, Honolulu, Hawaii // By Anonymous, at 3:10 PM

* Dear "Anonymous," / There is perhaps no position--religious or secular--on the face of this Earth which is more symbolic (and I do not mean that pejoratively, but rather in a positive sense) than the Papacy. / To conclude that the fact that Benedict XVI joined the Hitler Youth when he technically (admittedly at some risk) could have refused to do so, and entered the Nazi infantry when, again, he could have refused to do so pursuant to a similar risk, and given the history of anti-Semitism which has plagued the Church for over a thousand years, and given the scores of qualified candidates every bit as capable as Ratzinger which were available at the time the conclave met, the article above is *not* equivalent to sniping at, say, a prospective candidate for fry-cook at McDonald's. / It is, that is, not unreasonable to speak of the new Pope's actions as a young man. / That "mere history" (if you will) means much, much more than that to millions of people worldwide, and frankly the fact that the cardinals could be so distanced from their flock--and the cultural, political, and historical landmarks/morays of this material world--is every bit as troubling as the fact that a former Nazi infantryman is now Pope. / And whether Benedict's biographer likes it or not, many others faced with the same choices as Benedict XVI made different and measurably more courageous ones. / The News Editor, The Nashua Advocate // By News Editor, at 3:17 PM

* Hitler was in no way a legitimately elected leader. Perhaps you need to review his rise to power a little more. // By Anonymous, at 3:51 PM

* 51 percent of Catholics will hail this decision. 49 percent will begin praying for God to bring this new pope home. I looks like George W. Bush was elected pope today. // By rfwohl, at 4:04 PM

* Last year when the city of San Francisco decided to allow gay marriages, the local Catholic Church responded with a protest march through the streets of North Beach condeming that decision. / I thought it was sadly ironic; in the midst of covering up their own crisis of closeted priests abusing young children, the hypocrites were out in public "casting the first stone" at people who actually had the guts to honestly be themselves. / The Catholic Church is rotting from the inside, and this latest dose of arrogance is only going to widen the chasm between the church and its followers. / As for the Nazi pope, there is an widely held belief that a person's character is hard coded by age seven, and Ratzinger's "go along to get along" path at age 10 didn't make him a spiritual standout, while his actions throughout his religious career certainly reveal an affection for the Nazi's distaste for the "other". / I am actually disturbed that there are still souls out there who believe that Divine Inspiration could be determined by one man rather than us all. // By Anonymous, at 4:18 PM

* I am by no means a papal scholar but have found some of the following opinions both informative and interesting: / BBC Profile / Hitler Youth / Quotes from the new Pope / In my own view, the election of this Pope is a circling of the wagons by the Vatican in other to save an increasingly irrelivant theology. // By Anonymous, at 4:35 PM

* This site does confirm one thing: There is no depth "The Staff" won't plumb when it comes to character assassination. / When at the age of twelve, the newly elected Pope was deciding whether to mandatorily join the Hilter Youth in order to stay in school, The Staff was no doubt making such courageous decisions as to whether girls were attractive. / At age 16, when he was pressed into being a boy soldier on the German Austrian frontier in a war effort that would have seemed doomed for at least two years by then, The Staff boldly faced his own bleak existential question--would anyone ever ask him out? / I am not a Catholic, but I have no problem defending the current Pope against someone who has never had to face anywhere near such a monumental set of life choices so early. Are we really to believe the charge that Benedict XVI is a failure of a human being because he didn't make extraordinarily difficult choices at a time in his life when most of his critics tested their mettle by trying to acquire condoms or alcohol without adult aid? / What a sad, pathetic bunch you are, and The Staff is beyond the pale. // By Eric Jensen, at 4:42 PM

* Eric Jensen, please buy a clue. How do you know what decisions The Staff faced at a young age. The fact that you claim to know is textbook "control freak". / This Pope didn't only face monumental choices in his youth; he faced them recently as well. / Ratzinger wrote that pedophile cases were subject to pontifical secrecy and that only priests should handle such cases. / Yeah, right. // By Anonymous, at 4:55 PM

* I am always impressed by those who go by "Anonymous" on the internet and you are no exception. / Alas, you may be right however. Aside from his smug and condescending attacks on a 78 year old man, we have no indication that The Staff didn't make such weighty decisions like to discontinue school at age 12 or face annihilation in battle at age 16. How dare I presume otherwise. / So do I know what tribulations The Staff has faced? No. That would be because my "knowledge" of The Staff's activities at those ages would be called "surmising" by a literate reader. / Regarding the pedophilia crisis, perhaps Pope Benedict was just following orders. He remains a good Nazi in your view after all. // By Eric Jensen, at 5:08 PM

* It is nice to see such an evenhanded, fair and balanced story such as yours. :^P / Geez, ok, so the new pope fought for his country, ran away from duty, and was captured and a POW of the USA Army. / (By the way, if he were a Russian POW, I don't think he would have been so fortunate. Not a criticism of the Russian army, just an observation that Russia lost a huge number of soldiers and civilians in WWII, and a german soldier in uniform might have felt a little more wrath and payback from them, than from the USA forces.) / He's probably still greatful not to have been killed in combat. He was damn lucky, if not outright blessed to survive WWII. / As long as he doesn't change things he'll be an ok pope. / Maybe not another John Paul II, but he should at least do ok as an average pope goes...Really! / But, if he changes the mass to be said only in German, the sign of the cross to, ah, a 'hindu symbol of life' and the communion bread and wine to Barvarian Beer and Pretzels, then you should start to worry! ;) // By Anonymous, at 5:56 PM

* How very typical of human nature to do nothing but rip and tear at a person. Why had I expected any better? If human nature were more prone to seeing the positive in situations than to focus solely on what they feel are negative, oh, no, wait...I forgot. The dumbing of America, right? Watch Survivor and spend hours digging for any negatives about anyone. // By Leisa, at 6:08 PM

* Look from the positive angle, Joe Rottweiler is good news for non-Catholics. // By Anonymous, at 6:57 PM

* As opposed to what? Having faith and trust in his benevolence? I think the Catholic Church has spent their reserves. / He's getting ripped because he gave the finger to the victims of pedophile priests who were hurt by the church and he said that he wants to keep 'status quo' the process that allowed that to happen. / America isn't dumb. America has the guts to sass back. // By Anonymous, at 7:11 PM

* The selection of the ultraconservative Ratzinger can be seen as a sop to the growing numbers of (very conservative)Catholics in Africa and Latin America. His so-called "Nazi" past will be an interesting sidelight for about 2 weeks, hopefully, then we can get to the real character and beliefs of Benedict. He has, after all, said quite enough very recently to define his 21st Century church as the medieval, anti-intellectual house of fear that it truly is. // By Tom, at 10:18 PM

* Anonymous... / SHUT THE FUCK UP! // By The Terminator, at 10:19 PM

* Obviously, he doesn't have the spiritual genius that would lead him to make a decision at age 16 (not a child) to not participate in fascism. / He knows the importance of going with the flow. He's always possessed that intelligence and it's gained him the papal throne. // By Anonymous, at 10:23 PM

* Because the right wing has learned that the new pope was conservative, theyll justify any action, defend any crime , parrot any talking point that comes along, as long as hes on their side "politically" It wopuldnt matter if they found out this guy was groping small boys, theyll make up some excuse to protect him. / No different than the way they are with Bush or Tom Delay.. // By Gubermintcheez, at 10:52 PM

* Excellent overview of this man. The cardinals should be ashamed of themselves. // By Anonymous, at 10:57 PM

* Run that by me again. / "America isn't dumb" / Are you still talking about a country that elects Bush to a second term? / "America has the guts to sass back" / Are you still talking about a country that sends its kids to die on foreign shores for a few barrels of oil? / I totally agree with Leisa when she says "How very typical of human nature to do nothing but rip and tear at a person..." / If you can't say something good, its better you say nothing at all. / In my personal opinion, Ratzinger has a lot of trials and tribulations ahead of him. It takes a man of rare moral fiber to take on this job, knowing he'll be facing opposition like no other before him has. // By Savio, at 1:08 AM

* I wasn't talking about the war, tardo, I was talking about America's relationship with the Catholic church. Keep up. / Ratzinger's opinion is that pedophile priests should be kept at arms length from the law. / The voices coming out of America are saying no; it's a crime. / Your attitude that we should all shut up unless we have something good to say is stupid. You're part of the problem. // By Anonymous, at 2:49 AM

* This was a very well written article. I especially liked the line "irretrievably screwed." It was a good way to make the point clear. / I do not know enough about the Hitler youth thing to have an educated opinion of what it says of Ratzinger. / It doesn't seem to matter much though, as Ratzinger has a long adult history of decisions which I find unacceptable. / Especially his involvement in the cover up of priests who abused children. / Ratzinger is not a man to emulate, but rather a warning. / He is intolerant of homosexuals unless they are pedophile priests. / Not a man of respectable character. / Team before truth does not serve a healthy example. // By anonymous but not ignorant, at 5:37 AM

* That the Catholic Church has a very ugly right-wing, fascistic history dating back to the Inquisition is indisputable. That a former Hitler youth and Nazi soldier would be selected pope is hardly surprising. / The public at large consists overwhelmingly of good, decent people. If the public were consciouly aware of the history of the Catholic Church, the Church would cease to exist (without another Inquisition.) // By H.L. Mencken, at 11:15 AM

* Pope Benedict XVI's idea that the / 'Age of Enlightenment' is bad... / puts him in a Medieval State of Mind that offers little hope for a / troubled world while the rights / of every human being are abridged. / This Pope is 'old fashioned' and / out of touch with reality today. / / Most Catholics are not going to like his ideas. But, it won't make / much of a difference coming from / this 'anti scientific' clergyman. / This was an opportunity for the / Roman Catholic Church to open new / doors and expand membership. What / has happened is a terrible mistake. // By Anonymous, at 11:34 AM

* 'God's Rottweiler' will see off those faggot/pedophile clergy in double quick time. / Cardinal Rattzinger is 'the' right / man for the job. The Catholic church needs an extensive cleanout this Spring. // By Anonymous, at 12:00 PM

<hr size=8 noshade width="74%" align=left>

JIM LEHRER: A look at the challenges and issues that face the new pope. And for that, we're joined by The Very Reverend David O'Connell, president of Catholic University in Washington.

And Chester Gillis, a professor and chair of the Department of Theology at Georgetown University. He is author of the book "Roman Catholicism in America."

Professor Gillis, who among Catholics will be the most disappointed over this election of Ratzinger?

Chester GillisCHESTER GILLIS: Well, I think there is a contingency of American Catholics particularly who were looking for moderation or change in the views of the Vatican on a number of issues, and I think they may be disappointed with the continuity of John Paul's policies and the sometimes viewed as rigidity in doctrine al orthodoxy for Benedict.

They will say, "I'm holding out longer," or they may be disaffected and simply drop out. Now in the view of Pope Benedict, he may think that's perfectly okay, a smaller more faithful Church is what he wants and that's the adequate and appropriate model.

Sometimes he sees modernity with its pluralism and secularity as heresy, and they don't see it as heresy. They're embedded in modernity and they see it as their daily life and as something that informs their consciences, and they follow that sometimes as well as church..

--Mixed reactions--

JIM LEHRER: Father O'Connell, do you agree with Professor Gillis that the folks he described who are the ones who are not happy tonight?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Well, I think there will be some people who will not be happy. Yet at the same time, I think there will be a number of people, especially a number of young people who are looking for the kind of moral anchor and theological anchor that Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI represents. I think there will be some who will rejoice in his appointment, but that's not to take away from, as Dr. Gillis pointed out, the fact that a number of people will see this as if not a step backward, kind of a holding pattern. And that would be unfortunate, because this is a great man with a great vision and a great intellect and a great character and quality of spirit, and I just hope that people give him the chance to prove himself.
JIM LEHRER: But Father O'Connell, it is a holding action, would you not agree, on some of these basic policies and issues within the church?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Yeah, I don't know so much that, I hear them referred to as "policies." These are teachings, of the church, based upon the gospel, based upon truth, based upon tradition. And I think that puts them in a different category than referring to them as policies. They have a fundamental intentionality behind them that is based on the conviction of truth, revealed truth and the truth that comes to us through and in the church. And that's at Cardinal Ratzinger's core. He believes that, and he speaks that courageously. This is not an arbitrary man.
JIM LEHRER: All right, let's go through with you, with Gillis and Lehrer both of you, some of the outstanding issues at least facing Catholicism here in the United States. First of all, women priests, is that likely to change, Professor Gillis?
CHESTER GILLIS: No, it's very unlikely to change; I would say almost definitively it will not change.
JIM LEHRER: Do you agree, Father O'Connell?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Yeah, I agree. You know, there's an old story that's told about a priest speaking to God and the priest says to God, "Do you think we'll have married clergy," and God says, "Not in your lifetime. Then he says, "Do you think we'll ever have women priests," and God says, "Not in my lifetime."
JIM LEHRER: Okay. What about abortion and contraception, Professor Gillis, any change there?
CHESTER GILLIS: I don't think there will be a change on either of those policies in this papacy. Clearly he's going to follow John Paul II in this regard. And if he finds that this does not go down well with the Catholic faithful, it doesn't matter. As Father O'Connell said, he perceives this to be the revealed truth, the definitive truth of the Church, and that's what it will teach.

--A continuity in teachings--

JIM LEHRER: You agree with that, Father O'Connell, no, don't look for any changes in those areas either, correct?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: No, I don't think there will be a change at all.
JIM LEHRER: What about gay rights, Father O'Connell?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: I don't think there will be a change in his position, because the issue there is human sexuality. And the teaching of the church on human sexuality is pretty clear. But I do think we have to remember that Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II, I have to get used to calling him Pope Benedict XVI --
JIM LEHRER: We're all going to have to get used to that.
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Yeah, it was through his efforts in the congregation doctrine of faith that the issue of gay rights, the issue of discrimination against gay people was made pretty clear that this is something that the church cannot tolerate. And so I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss his concern about gay people in the church, although I don't expect him to change any effort or any bit of the teaching on that matter.
GWEN IFILL: What would you add to that, Professor?
CHESTER GILLIS: Well, he's on record as saying it's a moral and psychological disorder in the human person for a gay person. So clearly I don't see him changing any of the rules. I think Father O'Connell is right, there's a sympathy and an understanding, an attempt to understand the gay community in a way, but as far as tolerance of gay practices, gay marriage, absolutely not in his papacy.
JIM LEHRER: Pope John Paul II was opposed to capital punishment. Is there anything on the record about what Pope Benedict XVI might have a view on that?
CHESTER GILLIS: Well, I think since he was such a close ally of John Paul II and his chief lieutenant for orthodoxy and for doctrinal matters, I'm sure there were discussions about this and agreement on this. So whether or not he had written on it, I imagine he will continue that policy of John Paul II.
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: You have to remember that for the past 24 years, this is the man who whispered in the ear of the pope; this is the man who had his attention; and any time that the pope made a pronouncement, I'm sure there was a great conversation that occurred prior to that pronouncement between Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II.
JIM LEHRER: So if there were any disagreements, the pope always won, right?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Well, he is the chief shepherd.
JIM LEHRER: So now the new pope will win, but what about on foreign policy matters, Father O'Connell, that Pope John Paul II was opposed and said very publicly he was opposed to the war in Iraq. What can we glean from the record about Pope Benedict XVI on that kind of issue?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Well, I don't think you'll find a pope certainly in modern days who is ever going speak a message that's in support of war. And I think again there will be some continuity on the part of his pope with his predecessor in that matter.
JIM LEHRER: What do you think about that, Professor Gillis?
CHESTER GILLIS: I agree as well. I think while he'll be a clarion moral voice within the Catholic community for certain principles, he'll also speak the world about other issues. If they have political implications, then he understands the political implications, and he'll try to get across the message of the church in a definitive way.
JIM LEHRER: Would you, do you expect him to be as outspoken on some of these things, particularly on world affairs, as Pope John Paul II?
CHESTER GILLIS: Oh, I do expect him to be. This is a man who is a towering intellect, as John Paul II was, who has written a great deal, he's a trained theologian, this is what he does. In fact, I think he might be better at that than he might be at the public persona.
JIM LEHRER: Is that right?
CHESTER GILLIS: Well, the kind of charisma, it would be hard to match the charisma of John Paul II. But as far as the detail work and the thought work and the positions of the church, he will very carefully articulate those and I think very forcefully.
JIM LEHRER: Father O'Connell, where do you come down on the intellect, charisma equation?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: I think this is a towering intellect; that this is a brilliant man. You know, he was a university professor; he devoted his early life to the academic world, and to intellectual achievement and he was recognized for that at a very young age. He was chosen to be a consulter at the Second Vatican Council; I don't even think he was 35 years of age, and that's when his career in a sense got jump-started. But in terms of his own personality, I've met him several times, he is a very shy, humble man, he has a tendency to look down. He's got a good sense of humor, self-deprecating. But when you look into his eyes you can see a profoundness there, you can see that there's a depth and there's intensity in this man, and there's a firmness, and I think he will speak his mind when it is called for and sometimes when it's not. He will be a challenge to contemporary culture.

--A strong message--

JIM LEHRER: More so than Pope John Paul II, Father?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: I think in that respect we're going to see continuity there. He does not have kind of the public personality, the effusiveness of Pope John Paul II. But I think his message will be continue to be a strong one. I don't think you'll see in this pope either a person who will be traveling a great deal, or certainly as much as Pope John Paul II, of course he's much older than Pope John Paul II was. He's also a man of great culture; he's a pianist and has a great love for Mozart and the arts. This is a very rich person, a very deep person.
JIM LEHRER: You agree, Professor Gillis, that this will not be the traveling kind of pope that John Paul was?
CHESTER GILLIS: It's likely; certainly first of all he's 20 years older than John Paul was when he was appointed. So his health is probably less robust than it would be for a younger man and takes a great deal of stamina to do all that John Paul II did. He has traveled somewhat extensively, but nothing like John Paul II has done. He's good with languages.
JIM LEHRER: They say he speaks English and Italian, German . Does he speak them fluently?
JIM LEHRER: Is that right, Father?
CHESTER GILLIS: The one thing he lacks in a sense is pastoral experience. He was a brilliant theologian, he was early a bishop and then at the Vatican for a long time. So in some ways he's been in a bureaucratic structure outside of the connection with ordinary people in many ways. And so that may be something that he'll have to reconnect with larger communities in that way and pastoral communities.
JIM LEHRER: What do you think about that, Father?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Well, of course, he was an archbishop of a diocese for a few years before he was called to Rome. I think we have to be careful not to presume just because someone is an academic or because someone is in the hierarchical structure that they cease to be pastoral. Pastoral is caring for others; pastoral is being a shepherd, and I don't think that's absent in this man's life or experience.
JIM LEHRER: Father, based on what you've heard, was the relationship between, the close relationship that developed between then Cardinal Ratzinger and then Pope John Paul II, was it based on an intellectual meeting of the minds, or was it a personal friendship or was it what can you add to that?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: Well, I think they both met during the Second Vatican Council, both as young priests and as John Paul was a philosopher, Cardinal - Joseph Ratzinger as a theologian. I think they developed some contact at this point; they both had similar backgrounds and experiences in terms of living under totalitarian regimes. So I think they were soul mates from an early age, and I think the opportunity as time went on as both became bishops and both became cardinals to cement that relationship and to further it, and I think that's where it drew its strength.
JIM LEHRER: Do you agree?
CHESTER GILLIS: I do agree, and I think all the cardinals knew, this is a known quantity, they got a known quantity in Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict, and they knew his relationship with the previous pontiff and the confidence that John Paul II had placed in him. And the position as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith is a very powerful position in the Vatican, arguably the second to the pope, the secretary of state is powerful, but this one oversees theology in the church, and orthodoxy in the church. It's a very important position; they knew he had the confidence of this previous pope. John Paul would not have kept him in as long. It's been rumored that he wanted to go back to Germany, and John Paul said to him, "No, you will stay here and work with me, we are both older but we are running the church together."

--A Mass with message--

JIM LEHRER: I want to ask finally each of you the same question, a purely Washington question. Beginning with you, Father, do you think when the conclave began it was already locked up for then Cardinal Ratzinger?
VERY REV. DAVID O'CONNELL: I know many people said that. I didn't believe that. In fact I've said a couple of times in the past few days that I thought his homily at the Mass was in a sense his farewell, his opportunity to say finally to a worldwide audience when he believed and hoped for. I don't think this is a man who wanted to be pope, but I think his humility and simplicity and love of God moved him to accept the election.
JIM LEHRER: What would you add to that?
CHESTER GILLIS: I was a bit surprised that it was so quick. I thought that he had a lot of support initially, but whether he would get two thirds initially was another question. Sometimes someone gets 50 percent, but then they decline in the election; it goes on for a little while. And I read the homily a little bit differently; I read it as not as a farewell, but as a platform -
JIM LEHRER: "If you want me, this is what you get."
CHESTER GILLIS: Yeah. "If you want me to be the pope then here's what I'm going to fight against, here's what I want to stand for." And he raised issues of relativism particularly; he didn't raise issues of world poverty or globalization, for the pandemic of AIDS, or the crisis in some ways in the priesthood; those were not issues. These are the issues I am going to address, and I'm going to try to revive more of Christianity in Western Europe.
JIM LEHRER: That's a perfect set of Washington answers, slightly different from both of you. Father, professor, thank you both.

<hr size=8 noshade width="74%" align=left> is split on a man of zeal

By Melissa Eddy
The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 20, 2005

TRAUNSTEIN, Germany A man of deep personal faith who choked back tears as he delivered the homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger also has alienated some Roman Catholics with his zeal in enforcing church orthodoxy. And on those issues, the new Pope Benedict XVI is immovable.

Even as the cardinals who elected him prayed before the conclave, Ratzinger urged them to cling to church tradition and warned about the dangers of abandoning it.

"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism," he said Monday. "Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards.

"We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires," he warned.

They were words that would go over well in the conservative Alpine foothills of Bavaria where Ratzinger grew up and remains a favorite son. Now, at 78, he has become the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the first Germanic pope since monarchs imposed four men from that region in a row in the 11th century.

"Only someone who knows tradition is able to shape the future," said the Reverend Thomas Frauenlob, who heads the seminary in Traunstein where Ratzinger studied and regularly returns to visit.

But opinion about him remains divided in Germany, a sharp contrast to John Paul, who was revered in his native Poland.

A poll for Der Spiegel newsweekly said Germans opposed to Ratzinger becoming pope outnumbered supporters 36 percent to 29 percent, with 17 percent having no preference. The poll of 1,000 people, taken April 5-7, gave no margin of error.

Many blame Ratzinger for decrees from Rome barring Catholic priests from counseling pregnant teens and blocking German Catholics from sharing communion with their Lutheran brethren at a joint gathering in 2003.

Ratzinger has clashed with prominent theologians at home, most notably the liberal Hans Küng, who helped him get a teaching post at the University of Tübingen in the 1960s. The cardinal later publicly criticized Küng, whose license to teach theology was revoked by the Vatican in 1979.

He has also sparred openly in articles with a fellow German, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a moderate who has urged less centralized church governance and was considered a dark horse papal candidate.

"He has hurt many people and far overstepped his boundaries in Germany," said Christian Wiesner, spokesman for the pro-reform Wir Sind Kirche, or We Are Church, movement.

Ratzinger may have softened his image - at least among his colleagues - with the delivery of the homily at John Paul II's funeral. Choking back tears, the cardinal said that "we can be sure our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the father's house, that he sees us and blesses us."

In his autobiography, Ratzinger said he sensed he was out of step with his fellow Germans as early as the 1960s, when he was a young assistant at the Second Vatican Council in Rome.

Returning to Germany between sessions, "I found the mood in the church and among theologians to be agitated," he wrote. "More and more there was the impression that nothing stood fast in the church, that everything was up for revision."

Ratzinger left Tübingen during student protests in the late 1960s and moved to the more conservative University of Regensburg in his home state of Bavaria.

Catholics and Protestants each account for about 34 percent of the German population, but Bavaria is one of the more heavily Catholic areas.

"What Wadowice was for John Paul, Bavaria is for Ratzinger," said Frauenlob, referring to John Paul II's hometown in southern Poland. "He has very deep roots here, it's his home."

The cardinal was born in Marktl Am Inn, but his father, a police officer, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.

He and his older brother, Georg - former director of the renowned Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir - return annually to the peaceful halls of St. Michael's Seminary to stay in the elegant but sparsely furnished bishop's apartment next to the church.

An accomplished pianist who loves Mozart, Ratzinger enjoys playing the grand piano in the seminary's main hall, and walking through central Traunstein greeting people, Frauenlob said.

Traunstein was also where Ratzinger went through the harrowing years of Nazi rule and World War II.

In his memoirs, Ratzinger wrote that he was enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood.

Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper, a common task for teenage boys too young to be soldiers. A year later he was released, only to be sent to the Austrian-Hungarian border to construct tank barriers.

He deserted the Germany Army in May 1945 and returned to Traunstein - a risky move, since deserters were shot on the spot if caught, or publicly hanged as examples to others.

When he arrived home, U.S. soldiers took him prisoner and held him in a POW camp for several weeks. Upon his release, he re-entered the seminary.

Ratzinger was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. He then spent several years teaching theology. In 1977, he was appointed bishop of Munich and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

John Paul II named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, where he was responsible for enforcing Catholic orthodoxy and was one of the key men in the drive to shore up the faith of the world's Roman Catholics.

Ratzinger speaks several languages, among them Italian and English, as well as his native language, German.

Frauenlob calls him a subtle thinker with a deep understanding of Catholic tradition and a personal touch he is not often given credit for. He cites the example of the seminary's 2003 confirmation service where no bishop was available. Ratzinger swiftly agreed to come, confirming the 14 boys, then taking time to speak personally to each one after the ceremony.

"I find it hurtful to see him described as a hard-liner," Frauenlob said. "People are too quick to say that. It's not an accurate reflection of his personality."

IHT Copyright © 2005 The International Herald Tribune |</small> <p>[hr][/hr]<div style="text-align:center">"Pants are bad!!! We should wear pants only on our head you conformist bastard!!! Pants are the devils work!! Run freee!! And pantless!!!" -- Vulture</div></p>[i][/i]

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Re: Panzer Cardinal Selected as Pope

Unread postby pd Rydia » Thu Apr 21, 2005 10:46 pm

I forgot I typed this up the other day. All typos mine.<ul>"The concept of the Church as Teaching Authority begins with the premise that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to teach people how to live in this world so as to inherit eternal life. If this is true, it is important that his teachings continue in the world. The Gospels do not suffice for this purpose because they contain ambiguities. Bible studies, individually pursued, does not resolve these ambiguities because individuals come up with different interpretations. Is divorce permissible? Was Christ born of a virgin? Did his body ascend after death? Is the fourth Gospel authentic? Withou a sure court of appel, moral and theological disintegration seem inevitable. It is to avert such disintegration that the Church stans as the "supreme court," so to speak, to adjudicate between truth and error on important matters.

"This idea of the church as Teaching Authority leads in the end to the doctrine of papal infallibility. [...] The earthly head of the Church is the Pope, succssor to St. Pete in the bishopric of Rome. The doctrine of papal infallibility asserts that when the Pope speaks officially on matters of faith and morals, God protects him from error.

"This doctrine is so often misunderstood that it must be emphasized that infallibility is a strictly limited gift. It does not assert that the Pope is endowed with extraordinary intelligence. It does not mean that God helps him to know the answer to every conceivable question. Emphatically it does not mean that Catholics have to accept the Pope's view on politics. The Pope can make mistakes. He can fall into sin. The scientific or historical opinions he holds may be mistaken. He may write books that contain errors. Only in two limited spheres, faith and morals, is he infallible, and in these only when he has consulted widely and speaks officially as the supreme legislator of the Church, defining doctrines that should be held by all its members."

From Huston Smith's World's Religions</ul>In other words: If the Pope says that homosexuality is a "psychological disorder" (and he does, if I understand correctly!), then...his position as Pope doesn't reflect anything but the fact that he's abusing his position as Pope to influence others with that opinion. God doesn't help him know the scientific truth.

And on this, modern psychology gives Ratzinger the middle finger. <p>
<div style="text-align:center">"Pants are bad!!! We should wear pants only on our head you conformist bastard!!! Pants are the devils work!! Run freee!! And pantless!!!" -- Vulture</div></p>

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Re: Panzer Cardinal Selected as Pope

Unread postby Kai » Thu Apr 21, 2005 11:00 pm

Papal infallibility makes me die a little on the inside. The idea of any human being considered infallible under any circumstance strikes me as profoundly unrealistic.
I realize that when the Pope is officially speaking from the chair he is acting as a proxy for God's authority and whatnot... but even God's word can be a little hazy when run through a cosmic game of telephone.
God tells the Pope something, the Pope tells everyone else, they consult, the Pope asks God again, He responds, the Pope tells everyone else, they consult.... [miracle happens here] and then the Word of God is delivered to the masses.
I'm not a Lutheran, nor do I expect to become one anytime soon, but the idea of a more personal relationship with God seems pretty appealing compared to the idea of uber-centralized religious authority combined with Papal Infallibility.

Maybe that's why I tested as Martin Luther in some 'historical revolutionary' quiz......
*tacks up theses*
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Re: hello I have a target on my chest, it says "please

Unread postby pd Rydia » Fri Apr 22, 2005 12:38 am

(disclaimer: doesn't reflect on anyone else's beliefs, not a judgment, blah blah blah PC-correctness, your mama is a llama >:!)

I don't think something that is infinite/divine can be expressed through something finite as speech/language. Thus...papal infallibility or not, doesn't do the Catholic church any good. Even if he knows The Truth, he can only communicate it so accurately.

Personally, the way that papal infallibility is described ('the divine lets the Pope know what's right and wrong, but the Pope can still fall into sin/his prejudices can still drown out the divine's voice'), doesn't sound very "infallible," and it sounds a lot more to me of a trait I believe belonging to all humans.

I was actually chatting about this a bit earlier today in livejournal. A relevant excerpt:<ul><small>"I don't follow (in the sense of "interpret literally") scriptures much at all. I've...always found that a bit silly, counter-intuitive that is [...] Now, mind, I find the scriptures of most religions to hold good some groovy stories and lessons (as well as some bad ones), but to be invariably influenced by human failings. Translations, insertions, deletions, et cetera, et cetera.

"Divinely inspired? I can take that. To the point of infallibility? Mmm, nah, I don't think I can. My belief would run along that -everyone- has a bit of the divine (god, gods, forces, whatever) with them; I've heard this termed by some as a "divine spark."

"From being a tiny child on out, I knew that if I hit my brother, it would hurt him, and that wasn't cool. I liken that to the bit of the divine speaking to me to not be a total jerk. On the other hand, when as I get older, I get a lot better at justifying things. Man, that kid at lunch was really asking for it. It's only a white lie. If I put this passage here, it'll be for the good of the religion. Yanno?"</small></ul>My view of the divine would be something that would give all humans, at birth, a basic knowledge of what's right/wrong, regardless of any book, teachings, accessibility to books/literacy/teachers/societal norms which make a certain religion more readily acceptable than another, et cetera. But that's a "feel good" point-of-view, and therefore, evulâ„¢ (or dum, your choice). *shrugs* I don't personally jive with the view of a god of varying selectiveness. <p>
<div style="text-align:center">"Pants are bad!!! We should wear pants only on our head you conformist bastard!!! Pants are the devils work!! Run freee!! And pantless!!!" -- Vulture</div></p>

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Re: hello I have a target on my chest, it says "please

Unread postby Uncle Pervy » Fri Apr 22, 2005 5:27 am

So you feel that divine inspiration and instinct are one and the same?

Well, I assume instincts to not be an ass, anyways. <p>---------------------------

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Re: hello I have a target on my chest, it says "please

Unread postby pd Rydia » Fri Apr 22, 2005 5:49 am

In a way yeah, in a way no. It doesn't feel quite the same as what makes me go out and eat when I'm hungry, or makes me want to have sex. Although it'd be quite easy to explain it off with science (I can't say or write that word without "She Blinded Me with Science" playing through my head...), what with sociology and whatnot.

Ideally, the family and other subunits of society would help to nurture listening to that bit of you. However, I've found that its messages tend to get a lot more jumbled when others are trying to teach me their interpretations of the divine/divine will, rather than when I focus more--or at least spend some time--on listening to 'myself.'

That's saying something, because it's not easy to learn what you believe, when you don't have a lot of convention to drop back on.

Man, I must come off sounding like a nutcase. *shrugs* <p>
<div style="text-align:center">"Pants are bad!!! We should wear pants only on our head you conformist bastard!!! Pants are the devils work!! Run freee!! And pantless!!!" -- Vulture</div></p>

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Re: hello I have a target on my chest, it says "please

Unread postby GC130A » Fri Apr 22, 2005 9:31 am

I've always been brought to understand that papal infallibility is somewhat of a misnomer, and that it means that the Pope is the highest authority in the Church on matters of doctrine, faith, etc. Essentially, he's equally capable of being wrong as a Supreme Court is. Which is to say, completely. But his is the final word.

It makes at least a little more sense than the assertion, "The Pope cannot be wrong! >_<" Especially when you consider the hierarchial nature of the Catholic Church. After all, he's the man in charge.

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Re: hello I have a target on my chest, it says "please

Unread postby pd Rydia » Fri Apr 22, 2005 9:34 am

Huston Smith is a man of some reknown in the religious study world. That is, he knows a lot. Old bloke, long-standing interest in world religions.

That there book quoted is used a whole shitfucktonload for religious study and whatnot. So I'd say that's the official interpretation, though there's sure to be others. <p>
<div style="text-align:center">"Pants are bad!!! We should wear pants only on our head you conformist bastard!!! Pants are the devils work!! Run freee!! And pantless!!!" -- Vulture</div></p>

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