Apr 192005

Today has seen a papal election. That was fast, and it came as no surprise to me. I’d heard all the pundits talking about the return of the Throne of St. Peter to an Italian…I’d heard them talk about the growing influence of Africa and how the next Pope might be Nigerian, but the election of Ratzinger came as no surprise to me.

Ratzinger?was essentially the right hand man to John Paul, who appointed most of the College of Cardinals. I thought this guy was the heir-apparent all along. Like Bush, John Paul wasn’t ready to go.

There are many reasons to criticize the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, like his stances on women and gays in the church, social issues, his work in crushing liberation theology, his comments in regards to the priest sexual abuse scandals, and his generally conservative views.

Calling him a Nazi, however, is unfounded and unfair, and only serves to demean us.

The man is 78 years old. He was 18 when the war ended. He is of the right age group where you were required by law to join the Hilter Youth. Membership in the Hitler Youth by no means made you grow up to be a confirmed Nazi, although that was certainly the intent. Belonging to a Luftwaffe AA battery is also not a sign that he was a Nazi; had he been a fanatical Nazi, not only would he have volunteered for the Waffen SS, but he wouldn’t have deserted in 1944. That desertion in itself is not an unremarkable act. They still shot deserters at that time. Being in the German Army does not mean that you were a Nazi.

There are plenty of reasons to criticize this pope and the policies he’s likely to enact. Unfounded accusations are unfair, and will only serve to give the wingers more ammunition.

Call him conservative, call him reactionary, call him old, call him surly, call him the wrong choice. Just don’t call him a Nazi.

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