Ah Ratz!

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Longtime Vatican apparatchik Joe Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI. He's not so much an antipope as an anticlimax.

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  1. I guess it’s too late to do that reality show that I wanted. Well, I’m young, there will be more papal elections in my lifetime. When Benedict XVI starts to get sickly I’m going to get Cardinals to sign contracts to appear on Roman Idol.

  2. I want a new pope
    One that won’t make me sick
    One that won’t make me crash my car
    Or make me feel three feet thick

    I want a new pope
    One that won’t hurt my head
    One that won’t make my mouth too dry
    Or make my eyes too red

  3. Didn’t he say he didn’t want the Call? Guess sometimes ya jus’ can’t refuse.

  4. So when is the first heretic scheduled to be burned at the stake?

  5. YEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    Benedict Sixteen, we …. uh…..

    Crap, can somebody give me a rhyme!!!!!!

  6. The guy who was Cliff on “Cheers” is the new pope?

    Norm!

  7. Ah DAMN!!!! I had fifty bucks on Estevez.

  8. If gambling is a sin, gambling on papal elections doubly so… 😉

  9. How long til this Pope smokes dope?

  10. And I’m the mothufuckin’ King of Sinners.

  11. Didn’t he say he didn’t want the Call?

    Typical politician.

  12. Check the guy out in a photo when the Chilean cardinal is making the announcement, to viewer right, man, John McClain is EVERYWEHRE!

  13. A German, eh?

    Kinder, Kuche, Kirche!

  14. Yeah, you know he was Hitler Youth……

  15. Heh, the CBS report identified him as head of the Vatican’s “theological thought police”.

    So much for the media honeymoon… 😀

  16. He was, literally, a Hitler Youth. Youthful indiscretions and all that, and John Allen mitigates it somewhat in his bio. He also deserted from the Wehrmacht, which could probably be seen as a point in his favor.

    His bigger problem is that he’s a Brezhnev. It’s absurd listening to all these people mooning over him and what an inspirational figure he is, when he’s obviously been selected as a caretaker who won’t last too long. (Not that he can’t surprise people, but let’s be frank here.) Having actually read Ratzinger’s in-house history of the Second Vatican Council, I can tell you the characterizations of him as a staunch conservative are accurate but incomplete. He was a pretty open progressive through the sixties. He may have changed in dismay at guitar masses and unhabited nuns and so on, but I think the explanation that he’s a true institutional operator, able to be whatever he needs to be, is more plausible.

  17. To borrow from comedian Bill Hicks, now we have a Pope of German Heritage that I don’t listen to.

  18. And here I was hoping he’d call himself George Ringo…

  19. He’s 78 years old!! What is this anyway, natural term limits? John Paul II was only 84 when he died and as we all know he was in terrible shape for quite a few years beforehand. You’d think they’d pick someone just a little bit younger. Maybe pope funerals are good publicity for the church ….

  20. Mephisto…:

    The Ratzinger/Nazi story is a canard.

    Jerusalem Post article

    Kevin

  21. From what I understand, Hitler Youth membership was actually compulsory at the time, and he was supposedly pretty anti-nazi (explaining the desertion).

    Someone recently wrote an article (quite possibly for Reason, I don’t remember) speculating that John Paul may be remembered as the Pope that started the decline of the Catholic Church. From what I’ve read about Ratzinger, he may be precisely the sort of person to encourage this decline, even if he doesn’t last more than a few years. We’ll see, I suppose.

  22. Oh good, an ancient white guy. Not that ancient white guys as popes are unheard of. Speaking of Brezhnev, maybe we’re going to go through a period of old coots who don’t last very long like happened in the USSR after Ill B died – Andropov and those guys.

  23. Being in the Hitler youth was compulsory

  24. Mephisto,

    If the church does decline from here on, it’s gonna be hard to pin it on anyone besides Paul VI, who totally bungled the aftermath of Vatican II (from both sides’ perspectives I’m sure).

  25. Maybe, but I seriously doubt that in a hundred years Paul VI will be well-remembered. JPII likely will be.

  26. I just ranted this morning that the pick wouldn’t happen this early. Shows you what I know, even for an ex-papist.

    Ergo, tomorrow I will smoke for the pope and watch the 35th Anniversity edition of Easy Rider. It’s the least I can do.

  27. That’s it. I quit. Turn your backs, march me out of the church, I’m done.

  28. 78 years old and conservative? He’s a placeholder.

    What *is* the deal with the recycling of ancient names? We’re going to be tacking on a whole alphabet’s worth of Xs and Is before they get a Pope Cody or Pope Dylan.

  29. Yes, my boy pulled through. I put $20 down on him when he was 29-1, but then money poured in on the guy. Last I checked it was 7-1 and I’m sure the odds fell even further.

    Maybe those 10 years of Catholic school were worthwhile after all.

  30. Check in on andrewsullivan.com if you need some background on Ratzenberger’s contribution to Catholic theology.

    For starters, he declared homosexual people to be intrinsically evil, and unfit to serve as priests. Not even the usual pretense of “love the sinner, hate the sin” or “compassion for the mentally ill.” Just a class of subhumans not entitled to respect.

  31. Sieg Heil, baby, Seig Fucking Heil!

    [This pope exemplifies why I’m an EX catholic and loving it]

  32. For starters, he declared homosexual people to be intrinsically evil, and unfit to serve as priests.

    Any wagers on a schism during this pope’s watch?

  33. Ah DAMN!!!! I had fifty bucks on Estevez.

    Pipe down, you guys, about who “won” and who “lost.”

    Remember: The first rule of Pope Club is, nobody talks about Pope Club.

    Oh good, an ancient white guy.

    At least they had a black candidate. You want to talk about an old white boys’ club, look at the British royal family. They haven’t had a black king in years.

  34. We had a black king? we had a black prince (richard the III if iirc) but never a black king, as the prince got killed by the usual suspects (the french)

  35. You know, Scinter, a real schism would require a rebellion by the local clergy, as well as a substantial chunk of the public. If Pope Rat wants to start a purge, we could be in business. There are a lot of gay priests in this country.

  36. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Catholicism big into suffering for what’s right and true?

    I ask this, because if one believes that something — oh, say the nazi party — is evil, doesn’t one have an obligation to stand against it, even if it means death.

    I’m not buying the youthful indiscretion line, or the “it was compulsory” line either. A truly noble person, who believed in a glorious afterlife, would not shrink back from such a challenge.

    So Joe, can we call you an ex-catholic now?

  37. I blame the Church’s decline on that god fellow. The whole religion spiel might make more sense if he, y’know, existed or something.

    Kevin

  38. I don’t know.

  39. So what are you saying KMW, Catholics priests lack the convictions of say, Tibetan Monks?

    As a practicing buddhist, it warms my heart to say that!

  40. “God” is spelled with a capital “g”, okay? It’s not too much to remember. Get it right.

    Thank you.

  41. Interesting choice on the part of God. Hard to argue with it, considering He is an all-knowing deity.

  42. Oh, don’t act so surprised, god. You knew it was going to happen and you didn’t prevent it.

  43. joe,

    Interestingly enough, andrewsullivan.com has no info on the Ratzinger quotes you cite. Do you have other links?

    And yes, I know the CDF has issued documents calling homosexuality — not homosexual persons — intrinsically evil. Just as murderous rage is intrinsically evil, but not everyone who experiences it is.

    On an even more terrifying note, apparently Andrew Sullivan is also receiving ad money from His Floorhumpingness…

  44. There are people here who want to mutter darkly about Ratzinger because of something he did when he was *14 YEARS OLD*???? Like that means squat about the kind of person he was now?

    When I was 14 years old, I was a fucking Communist. And I didn’t even have a govenment dragooning me into joining the Party (or its youth arm). Within a year, I was quoting “Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal,” and within 2 years, I was reading National Review. I’m glad when I ran for office in YAF, they didn’t run a background check to make sure I was ideologically pure.

  45. If Pope Rat wants to launch a crusade against sweaty, bald, ass-flexing guy, all is forgiven!

    Keep watching Sullivan – I’m sure he’ll lay out all the particulars.

  46. Seriously though, are political blog commenters more likely to be interested in humping floors than the general population? Cause I’ve seen the ad in exactly three places, and they’re all blogs.

  47. The Ratzinger/Nazi story is a canard.

    I don’t know what the “Ratzinger/Nazi” story is, but unless many people are lying, he was in the Hitler Youth and did serve in the German army. Here‘s the Allen book, and here’s a review detailing the relevant material.

    Not having been around at the time, I don’t know whether Hitler Youth membership was mandatory, but I certainly don’t think Ben Seize should be shunned on that account. It’s also important to note that the war ended less than a month after his 18th birthday (though his church counts the “age of reason” as starting at seven). But these childhood accomplishments are not exactly sources of pride, and I question the Holy Spirit’s grasp of public sensitivities in making this selection.

  48. As any good H&R commenter could tell you, the important thing to remember about his youth is that at least he didn’t serve a left-wing dictator!

    But seriously, I’m willing to forgive what he did at 18 if he’s renounced it (as I assume, or at least hope, he has). I have a hunch that a Pope who suffered under the Nazi occupation of Poland wouldn’t have elevated an unrepentant Nazi to Cardinal. Or at least that’s what I hope.

  49. Seamus,

    You’re also not laying claim to the holiest man alive.

    If we were talking about an earthly political post, I wouldn’t care. But the man is supposed to be a defender of the faith. Peter was supposedly crucified upside down, in reverence to Jesus. Pope Rat can’t even decline peer pressure.

  50. KMW,

    Saying no to the Nazi party in Germany at that time is merely declining peer pressure? Please.

  51. No, not merely, but it wasn’t AUTOMATIC death either.

  52. kmw,

    The Pope is not expected to be the holiest man alive, he’s expected to competently lead the church. Considering that only 4 popes (Celestine V, Pius V, Pius IX, & Pius X) of the past milennium have become saints, the holiness standard must not be that high…

  53. The VP of the Mises Institute likes the new Pope

    The Jerusalem Post debunks the Hitler youth Nazi canard. Free registration required.

  54. Of all the things the Church has been pulling for the last decade or so, I wonder why the election of decrepit conservative as a placeholder pontiff is a “picking-up-my-toys-and-going-home” issue for anyone still sticking with it.

  55. The placeholder take is probably right. The Cardinals punted when they couldn’t decide who they watned to have the influential post so they picked a guy who may croak in a few years.

    That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to do significant damage. I’m hoping schism and all-out Catholic-on-Catholic war with bloodhsed and stuff. The world’s just not interesting enough right now.

  56. crimethink,

    I guess Peter was a hard act to follow then.

    I would expect my church leader to be an example of holiness, but then that’s probably asking too much.

    Which is why I was never a catholic.

  57. Yous ladies can have ya tee-hees on my account, but lets me tells yous, I wuz once a pencil-neck, 90-pound weakling.. untils one fines summer day I took my gal Midge to da beach, and dis muscles-bound bum kicks sand in our mugs! I wuz so mads I goes home and kicks a chair. It didn’t do nothing, so I kicked over anudder chair. Den I humps da floor. Six weeks later of floor hump’n, I gets dese muscles all overs (individual results may vary), and den I goes back to da beach, and I PUNCHED OUT DAT BUM in front of my gal. Yous can takes dat to da bank.

    Now yous ladies can go backs to yous tea party.

  58. John –

    Not sure what you’re trying to prove with this “canard” non-sense. Jerusalem Post pretty clearly admits all the Nazi ties we’ve been talking about. I’m not trying to prove the guy is a closet Nazi. I do think the fact that he obviously did have Nazi ties at one point is interesting, though.

  59. The question is will Pope Rat be a hard act for Peter II to follow?

  60. Actually, I erred — there are 5 saint-popes from the past milennium (Leo IX, Gregory VII, Celestine V, Pius V, and Pius X).

    http://www.ewtn.com/holysee/Pontiff/saintschronological.asp

  61. Furthermore, I ask… why the requirements for celibacy and purity, if holiness doesn’t matter for being pope?

    Not to pull a Gunnels, but it doesn’t sound very logical to me.

  62. Dude. He was 14! He came from an ant-Nazi family and seems to have done everything that a teen could do (short of getting himself killed) to disassociate himself with the Nazis. I’m not Catholic nor do I support their church, but he seems like a pretty solid pick. From the reports I’ve read it seems like he is the most rigorous intellectual of the possible Popes, and is about as Libertarian as you are going to get in a Pope of the Catholic Chruch.

  63. Eric .5b,

    1) I’ve been hanging by a thread for years anyway.

    2) Pope Rat isn’t nearly as innocuous as the phrase “decrepit conservative as a placeholder” makes out. Ratzinger is a raging radical homophobe, even compared to John Paul II. If they wanted a placeholder, they had plenty to choose from. Instead, they decided to pick a firebrand who has spent his career insulated from the flock, waging a war against modernity, liberalism, and the existence of a private sphere.

  64. “You’re also not laying claim to the holiest man alive.”

    If kmw can point me to anywhere that Ratzinger claimed to be the holiest man alive (or in Germany, or in the College of Cardinals), I’ll eat my biretta.

    As I recall, St. Paul wasn’t just a passive member of an evil organization in his youth, but was an active persecutor of the Church as an adult. Still, I don’t think anyone would have thought it outrageous if he’d been elected the first successor of St. Peter. (Oh, wait, Andrew Sullivan would have.)

    “If we were talking about an earthly political post, I wouldn’t care.”

    Well, maybe *you* wouldn’t, but within the past couple of years, people were seriously trying to shoot down one of GWB’s nominees on the ground that the fellow had been a Hitler Youth back in the old country SIXTY YEARS AGO, when the guy was a teenager. (Of course, if he’d been a Young Pioneer, that would have been another matter.)

  65. I’d like to know KMW, if you could find ANY 78 year old non-Jewish German who wasn’t at some point involved in the Hitler Youth. It was the Hitler YOUTH, not the freaking SS. It sounds to me like you have more of a beef with Germans in general than you do with Ratzinger.

  66. “Debunk” means “to expose as being false or exaggerated.” “Canard” means “a false or baseless, usually derogatory story.”

    From the JPost story two people have claimed “debunks” the “canard”:

    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 it.”

    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 those events.

    I believe what John and Kevrob mean to say is “The Jerusalem Post clarifies the history of Ratzinger’s membership in the Hitler Youth.” I know they wouldn’t want to be spreading any bunk or canards.

  67. This Nazi stuff is just silly. A 14 year old boy didn’t call attention to himself and get his parents arrested? Ooohhhh, no soup for you!

    Ratzinger’s got plenty of legitimate black marks to point out.

  68. This Nazi stuff is just silly.

    I agree, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

  69. And all the talk of a “caretaker” Pope seems a bit misplaced as well. Statistically, the average life expectancy of a Westerner who reaches the age of 78 is about another 10 years. Throw in the fact he will have the best health care the world has to offer and he could be with us for quite some time.

  70. That depends on what the meaning of the word “it” is. If “it” means, he was a Nazi or a sympathizers, “it” is untrue. If “it” means he accommodated the circumstances in which he lived and mostly kept his head down, than “it” is true, though not particularly meaningful.

  71. “I wuz so mads I goes home and kicks a chair. It didn’t do nothing, so I kicked over anudder chair. Den I humps da floor.”

    LOL. Thank you Bald Fury, for that nice little chuckle.

  72. Seamus,

    As I recall, the pope is called “Holy Father” and other such titles of holiness. He doesn’t have to claim holiness, it goes with the title.

    DavePotts: I am German myself. My ancestors fled the nazification of Europe — and we are blonde haired aryans. They could have easily blended in. Maybe I just have high standards.

  73. I humped floors when I was 14.

  74. Joe – I think “it” means the man was a Hitler Youth. That’s it. Jesus Christ.

    Scott –

    That’s possible, but I still think he probably was elected as a placeholder. One – he was elected very quickly. I think that if the cardinals had been looking for someone who was going to make radical changes (either in a conservative or liberal way) they probably wouldn’t have taken a very short time to elect the clear leader. Two: Ratzinger is a hard-lining conservative. Very little, if anything, will change under his rule. Whether he’s pope for 1 year or 20, he will not deviate from core church doctrine or introduce new ideas. So he’s a very safe choice.

    I admit I could be wrong, but it seems to me that JPII would probably be a pretty hard to act to follow, and Ratzinger is just a safe, conservative figurehead that will hold them over until (they hope) a figure as powerful as JPII was can be elected.

  75. “I think “it” means the man was a Hitler Youth. That’s it. Jesus Christ.”

    Uh, yeah. When people point out someone’s alleged connections to Nazis, they generally aren’t concerned with making a larger point. Especially not one related to the subject’s character.

  76. Joe:

    Well, what do you think this guy is going to do? What could he conceivably do between now and the next temporary chimney installation in the Vatican that would really be worse than, say, what the Church has done to shield priestly child molesters?

    I can see the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” aspect of things, but I honestly can’t understand why someone would stick with the Church this long if this Pope would bother him.

  77. I think deserting the Wehrmacht as he did during war-time, especially under Hitler’s reign, would have been punishable by death if he’d been caught. Does that help anybody feel better?

    I’m starting to feel sorry for Das Poop. I would like to know more about what he said about homosexuality, though. Haven’t had time to read Sullivan yet.

  78. Just to clarify, I don’t believe for a second that he’s a nazi sympathizer. I’ll even grant that he is anti-nazi.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass that Arnold had a SS father, or whatever he was. But one would have to suppose that pope Rat thinks heaven is better than earth, and martyrdom is the ultimate glory. At least, that used to be the church teaching. And standing up for good, yadda yadda.

  79. I humped floors when I was 14.

    And suddenly we’re in the crowd confessional scene in Airheads.

  80. Whatever sort of affiliation Ratzinger might have had with the Nazis, that affiliation was much less willfull and active than, say, Paul’s active persecution of Christians.

    I’d say that his positive activities at Vatican 2.0 and negative activities as Cardinal need to be weighed more heavily than his minimal association with the Hitler Youth. I also doubt that a Polish Pope who suffered under the Nazi occupation would have elevated to Cardinal an unrepentant former Hitler Youth.

  81. But one would have to suppose that pope Rat thinks heaven is better than earth, and martyrdom is the ultimate glory. At least, that used to be the church teaching. And standing up for good, yadda yadda.

    Dude, how many totalitarian regimes did you live in and stand up against when you were 14?

  82. And here I was hoping he’d call himself George Ringo…

    Benedict is the Egg Man. Goo goo goo joob!

  83. >>”I also doubt that a Polish Pope who suffered under the Nazi occupation would have elevated elevated to Cardinal an unrepentant former Hitler Youth.”

    Minor point, but I think “Eggs” Benedict XVI was one of the few cardinals not appointed by JPII but by a predecessor.

  84. thoreau,

    No fair copying and pasting! 😉

  85. I’ve got no opinion about Ratzinger’s “holiness”, and don’t really care about his theological opinions, as I fired the Catholic Church as my spiritual outfit quite some time ago. But the continued accusation that someone who, as a kid in the Third Reich, was forced to join the Nazi Boy Scouts, and even then seems to have wormed his way out of going to the meetings, is just not fair. In my earlier contribution I posted the Jerusalem Post article that explains this. If navigating the registration was too tough for some, let me quote it:

    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 it.”

    Further:

    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? – Sam Ser

    Are we to demand that everyone who has been conscripted in an evil cause be considered morally tainted forever, even when, once they have regained the freedom to make their own choices, they act contrary to the evil that enslaved them?

    Kevin

  86. Kevrob – I truly hate to say it, but Joe’s right. Anyone going on and on about the Hitler Youth membership is just going for the sleazy ad hominem.

  87. Godwin’s Law already, people! Lay off me! Sheesh!

  88. Re: The PopeRat being a Nazi…

    PopeKerry would have been worse!

  89. Serafina,

    You are correct. Ratz is one of I believe two cardinals who were appointed by Paul VI.

    This “Hitler Youth” connection seems fairly irrelevant – as other posters have pointed out membership was not optional by the mid 1940s. There are very few 78-year old German men who can boast a cleaner record than his. Deserting the German Army was a capital offense for which you could, and usually would, be shot on the spot. Ratz may have been a scared conformist but there is no evidence that he was an enthusiastic or even luke-warm Nazi. In fact, in Nazi Germany enthusiastic Catholic belief was not compatible with Nazism. The Nazis tolerated and tried to coopt the Catholic Church but never trusted it. There were a large number of German priests who were sent to concentration camps. On the whole the wartime record of the German church is much better than that of the French or Croatian Catholic churches.

  90. Eric .5b,

    “What could he conceivably do between now and the next temporary chimney installation in the Vatican that would really be worse than, say, what the Church has done to shield priestly child molesters?” Scour the seminaries for gay students, and kick them out. Require Catholic colleges to fire professors who don’t toe the Church line on political issues. Pound the table on converting the Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

  91. Britain doesn’t need a Black King. Having a Black Adder is sufficient.

  92. Hey Joe – the problem is, that would be precisely in line with Catholic teaching. He would be completely and totally in the right (according to Catholic doctrine) in doing that. So what you’re saying, then, is that you’re afraid he’s a hard-liner conservative who’s going to do exactly what the church doctrine commands that he do.

    Of course, this leads to a discussion of how much power he really holds. It would almost be interesting to see, sometime – I wouldn’t be suprised if much of the Catholic Church’s supposed “power” is just smoke and mirrors.

  93. Actually, Meph, Church teaching doesn’t command any of those actions, though it could certainly be used to justify them.

  94. Why is this an anti-climax? Was there an “exciting” prospect? Was Bono up for the job?

  95. I think a better analogy than Brezhnev may be Suslov, (called the “Gray Cardinal”), the long-time Chief Theologian of Marxist-Leninist Orthodoxy in the Kremlin. Though it is true that Suslov never became General Secretary. Like Ratizinger, Suslov was an intellectual of a sort–which Brezhnev was not.

  96. IIRC, Bono is Protestant.

  97. I wouldn’t be suprised if much of the Catholic Church’s supposed “power” is just smoke and mirrors

    I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    (uses telekinetic powers to crush Mephistophocles’ throat)

    You haven’t seen nothing yet. Once my awesome battle station, the Culture of Life Star, is complete, then we shall use fear to keep the secular authorities in line. But even the power to destroy a planet is nothing compared to the power of the Church.

  98. Tim C:

    The late Adrian Hastings’ review may be an accurate depiction of Allen’s take on Ratzinger, but it goes out-of-bounds when it dwells on the fact(?) that the new pope’s uncle was an anti-Semite. I guess if you can’t substantiate the sins of the fathers, you try to pin them on the uncles, huh? I might as well point out that Hastings may have had bone to pick with a conservative like the future Ben XVI, what with his marrying while still an R.C. priest, and all.

    If “liberal Catholics” don’t like Ratzinger because he upholds traditional teachings, they should just say so, not bruit about deliberately misleading stories meant to tar him with the Nazi brush. If I were still a Catholic, I might even side with the “liberal” ones on some issues, but I’ll leave the intracommunal strife to the communicants.

    Kevin

  99. So I guess Scottie from Eurotrip won’t be the new pope.

  100. Hey, my last message was Centissimus Postum!

    Kevin

  101. Sinead O’Connor would have been an “exciting” prospect.

  102. History will record that JPII’s real achievement was not the downfall of the USSR but the downfall of Sinead.

  103. KMW-
    In view of your harsh opinion concerning the new Pope’s lack of teenaged courage in standing up to the Nazis, I have a serious question–do you also thik less of Galileo because when the Church threatened him with torture he denied, for the record, that the Earth revolved around the sun?

  104. Er, that’s “THINK less.”

  105. Jennifer,

    The crux of my argument is one of hypocrisy. Good Catholics believe in martyrdom, yet their top dog was unwilling to risk that. I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t believe in a glorious heaven, but supposedly the pope does.

    I’m not sure if Galileo had any spiritual ambitions, so I don’t know how to answer your question. I think maybe I was inarticulate in my points. I do think that Galileo wimped out, and I don’t know why he gets more credit than he deserves for what Copernicus did. The fact that he died only a few years later tells me he didn’t save his skin as much as he thought.

    If someone told me to believe in God or be killed, I wouldn’t renounce my disbelief. So if I’m willing to die for that, why someone who’s supposedly has all the answers in life.

  106. That should read:
    why NOT someone who’s supposedly has all the answers in life.

  107. Many 14-year-olds think they have all the answers in life, but most of us prefer they don’t act like they do in life-or-death contexts…

  108. Even 14-year-olds are responsible for their own lives, gubmit nannism notwithstanding.

  109. Good Catholics believe in martyrdom

    I’m not the greatest Catholic, and I’ve been unable to find any reliable information thus far about the RCC’s official stand on martyrdom, but I think that’s an oversimplification.

    My sense is that martyrdom is regarded as a noble thing, but I don’t think it’s something you’re positively obligated to go out of your way to seek out. Also, the Church’s position on suicide indicates that one is not to throw one’s life away lightly. The question is, will you do any good by such a sacrifice?

    As I recall most martyr stories, the martyr in question was pretty much up against the wall and didn’t have a lot of options. For example, the Romans martyred a number of Christians because they, as Christians, would not acknowledge the emperor as “divine,” even in the pro forma kinda way that was required at the time. (I hope I’m recalling that right.) But generally they didn’t go out of their way to flaunt the civil disobedience thing. People got martyred when faced with a stark choice: either stop being a Christian, or die. And many weren’t necessarily even given that open to save themselves.

    Ratzinger’s situation was a lot less binary. I don’t know that a 14-year-old German kid necessarily grasped the extent of the evil of the Nazi regime. He couldn’t exactly turn on CNN (or Fox News!) and get the truth. And even if he did, what good would he do to avoid going to some Nazi Youth meetings? These kids weren’t out on the front, or rounding up Jews and Gypsies with those dreaded 9 p.m. door-knocks. (Midnight would have been past the kids’ bed-time.) He probably would have only succeeded in drawing unwelcome attention and punishment upon his family, a definite harm in exhcange for a rather vague good. Killing yourself and endangering others just to flaunt your own supposed holiness is a rather vain boast. Perhaps he thought he could do good through some other actions. (Even lesser sacrifices are considered a form of martyrdom.)

    And a devout Catholic would say Ratzinger obviously made the right choice, because if he’d gotten himself killed instead of surviving to become pope (as God intended — now obvious), then a billion Catholics would be screwed right now, wouldn’t they?

    All joking aside, I wish the best for the guy and I hope he does a good job, and that he surprises the pessimists.

  110. kmw,

    The only time a Christian must submit to martyrdom is if it is the only alternative to sinning. There is no reason to believe that merely being a member of Hitler Youth — without participating in their violent crimes — was a sin.

    Of course, what you’re ignoring here is that JP2, and any honest pope before him, would admit that he was but a sinner. If perfect lifelong holiness was a requirement of the office, there would never have been anyone to fill it.

  111. Yeah, what Stevo XVI said…

  112. Looks like the Catholic Church is doing all it can in killing the outpouring of goodwill from liberals that resulted from the funeral. At least the left can stop feigning respect for the institution and get back to bashing religion.

  113. Of course, what you’re ignoring here is that JP2, and any honest pope before him, would admit that he was but a sinner. If perfect lifelong holiness was a requirement of the office, there would never have been anyone to fill it.

    Especially not Benedict’s early namesakes:
    In 964 Pope Benedict V raped a young girl and absconded to Constantinople with the papal treasury only to reappear when the money ran out.

    Benedict IX, who modern sources believe was only 18 when elected, was described by a chronicler as having “surpassed in wantonness and profligacy all who had preceded him”. He eventually sold his office to Gregory VI in order to marry, and then a year later led an insurrection to regain the papacy.

  114. Even if he was an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth, for which there is no evidence at present, I don’t think that makes him culpable for the Holocaust. He was a kid. My history may be a bit shaky, but I have seen approximately 10,000 documentaries on the History Channel about Hitler and the Nazis, and I don’t recall seeing anything about the Hitler Youth boys being asked to stoke the ovens at Auschwitz.

  115. Looks like the Catholic Church is doing all it can in killing the outpouring of goodwill from liberals that resulted from the funeral.

    Let’s not pretend that much of anybody from any point on the political spectrum listens to the Church anymore. Think what a politician who followed JP2’s desired policies would be: anti-abortion, anti-death-penalty, pro-foreign-aid, pro-welfare, anti-war. What the heck political party would a guy like that find a home in in the United States of America?

    That’s why I don’t get why this papal election was supposedly so significant. Once upon a time the church held significant political influence. But these days the South American Catholics are defecting to evangelical protestantism left and right, European Catholics can scarcely be bothered to show up for Mass, and American Catholics are eyeing the exit doors. JP2 may have been loved and respected by zillions of people, but he inherited a church that had lost most of its influence and presided over the loss of much of the rest.

  116. Most of the popes Benedict seem to have been no great shakes, although Benedict XII seems to have been one of the better Avignon popes and Benedict XIV had his moments. One theory is that Benedict XVI chose his name in memory of Benedict XV, who had the misfortune of becoming pope on September 3, 1914 and spending the first four years of his papacy futilely trying to bring peace to a Europe which was determined to rip itself apart. He also canonized Joan of Arc.

    Another possibility is he named himself after St. Benedict. Or maybe his favorite egg breakfast.

  117. Syd,

    That’s an interesting angle on Ben XV; indeed, WW1 was all the more problematic for the papacy since it was fought between countries with large Catholic populations on both sides (Austria-Hungary & Germany vs France & Italy). Perhaps that lent special urgency to the cause of Joan, who likewise fought in a war between Catholic England and Catholic France…

  118. Oh no, the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church actually chose a pope who is… a Catholic!

    “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love what is its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”-John 15:18-19

  119. For me the coverage of the election of the new pope has been immeasurably enriched by having read the books by Dan Brown, because I now know that:

    Puff of Black Smoke = Child Molester was not elected Pope

    Puff of White Smoke = Child Molester was elected Pope

  120. I think the most important thing to remember is that this election was accomplished without a recount.

    Florida, are you listening? ;->

  121. “What could he conceivably do between now and the next temporary chimney installation in the Vatican that would really be worse than, say, what the Church has done to shield priestly child molesters?” Scour the seminaries for gay students, and kick them out. Require Catholic colleges to fire professors who don’t toe the Church line on political issues.

    Even if I were a Christian, I wouldn’t be a Catholic for many reasons, including the dogmas on homosexuality and birth control. But how on earth would either of those things be worse than international conspiracies to protect child-molestors and their enablers? (Cardinal Law in Rome, I’m looking at you.)

    And really, how would they be any more than a footnote in what the Church has already done and does?

    Pound the table on converting the Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

    Last time I looked, that’s how religions generally grow – by convincing people of other religions to change to them.

  122. I’m always fascinated when people on this forum can’t understand why not all Catholics are hard-liners.

    Keep the following in mind:

    1) Catholicism doesn’t require the same degree of conformity and fanaticism as libertarianism ;->

    2) Catholics aren’t as fanatical as fundies.

    3) Most modern Catholics aren’t as fanatical as the old church that drove so many people away.

    4) While private groups of individuals should of course be free to associate exclusively with those who conform, the Catholic Church isn’t like other private groups. It was founded by a long-haired radical who told his followers to be inclusive. The die-hards have an obligation to share the big tent with the rest of us.

  123. Scour the seminaries for gay students, and kick them out. Require Catholic colleges to fire professors who don’t toe the Church line on political issues.

    I fully support that idea…

    … because I hate the Catholic Church, and the proposals quoted above would be certain to finally kill it off. They would lose most of their priests and seminarians, plus most of the remaining European and American congregations (which provide the Vatican with virtually all of its revenue).

  124. On the Hitler Youth thing – of course he doesn’t mean he was a Nazi supporter, he deserted after a while after all, he was only a teenager, etc. etc. But consider this:

    1) he was in seminar, and that would have provided him an easier way out from having to serve in the fricking Nazi army than what was available to any other male of his age who wasn’t in a seminar.

    2) in the list of crimes of “moral relativism” he listed in his recent pre-election sermon (see quote from the Sullivan), between Marxism (honourable first mention, of course!) and liberalism (wow, I didn’t know that was a dictatorship), from individualism to atheism to mysticism (good, now even St Francis would be burn at the virtual stake) to agnosticism, can you spot a glaring absence? That’s right, no mention of nazism and fascism. This is very typical of ultra-conservative Catholic groups. After all, nevermind the questionable role of the Vatican during that period, think of how overtly they supported Franco’s dictatorship in Spain, or the various fascist regimes in Latin America.

    So it’s not the Hitler Youth connection. It’s the rest, what he stands for.

    Oh, another of his statements about nazism – which he never mentioned by name – was in an episcopal letter that talked of relations with Jews, and in which he alluded to nazism as an “anti-christian” regime that targeted Christians through their Abramitic predecessors – ie. the nazi persecution of Jews was not really antisemitic but only instrumental, the real target was the influence of Christianity. I can guarantee you the response from Jewish religious representatives has been very mild and polite considering the kind of ancient insult they’d just been handed.

    As to those who don’t understand why only this election would be the final straw for Catholics hanging by a thread – sure, there was no need to wait for this to know where the wind was blowing, but so far, there was still some possibility, some opening for debate, there are severeal theologians and groups within the Catholic world that pushed for more liberal views, the liberal Catholics have been playing an increasing role in the lower hierarchies and in the social involvement of the Church in the last decades, and this election is just a blidingly clear message that they’re not welcome anymore, since even “liberalism” is anti-Catholic. Plus, what thoreau said.

    I have to wonder though what do other ex-catholics consider as defining step in becoming an ex-catholic? Simply not going to church anymore and/or joining another religion? Did anyone consider formal renounciation?

  125. we need another 1517

  126. “the nazi persecution of Jews was not really antisemitic but only instrumental, the real target was the influence of Christianity. I can guarantee you the response from Jewish religious representatives has been very mild and polite considering the kind of ancient insult they’d just been handed.”

    I suggest you get a copy of Hitler’s Table Talk

    The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity. [Hitler’s Table Talk, p. 6-7]

    Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. [Hitler’s Table Talk p. 51]

    Christianity, of course, has reached the peak of absurdity in this respect. And that’s why one day its structure will collapse. Science has already impregnated humanity. Consequently, the more Christianity clings to its dogmas, the quicker it will decline.
    [Hitler’s Table Talk, pp 58-62]

    If it’s possible to buy the high dignitaries of the Church with money, let’s do it. And if one of them wanted to enjoy his life, and for this purpose put his hand into the till, for the love of Heaven let him be left in peace. The ones we have to fear are the ascetics, with rings under their eyes, and the fanatics.[Table Talk, p. 411]… I’ll make these damned parsons feel the power of the state in a way they would never have believed possible. For the moment I am just keeping my eye upon them: if I ever have the slightest suspicion that they are getting dangerous, I will shoot the lot of them. This filthy reptile raises its head whenever there is a sign of weakness in the State, and therefore it must be stamped on. We have no sort of use for a fairy story invented by the Jews. The fate of a few filthy lousy Jews and epileptics is not worth bothering about. [p. 625].

  127. I’m always fascinated when people on this forum can’t understand why not all Catholics are hard-liners.

    Catholicism doesn’t require the same degree of conformity and fanaticism as libertarianism

    That so depends on the Catholic you ask. Much like the libertarian you ask…

  128. thoreau says:

    I’m always fascinated when people on this forum can’t understand why not all Catholics are hard-liners.

    It was my intention to razz the church leadership only.

    Lay catholic parishioners are some of the coolest people I’ve met, and most of the hierarchy doesn’t deserve them.

    Sorry if I painted with an overly broad brush.

  129. lilli:

    I think you are misreading Ratzinger’s Christmas 2000 remarks. He specifically chided Christians who harbored anti-Jewish attitudes. Full address here.

    Even the ADL seems to be happy with the pick:

    Under his leadership in Germany and Rome, the Catholic Church made important strides in improving Catholic-Jewish relations and atoning for the sin of anti-Semitism.

    I expect that Ratzinger didn’t expressly condemn Nazism and Fascism in that speech because neither of them was considered an imminent threat to be installed as a governing ideology. That may be an ill-considered judgment, of course. The possibility of the former Red Russia turning Black still worries me, for example.

    As for his war service, the new Pope was 12-years old in 1939, when he first entered the minor seminary. When he was conscripted late in the war, the Nazis were not giving seminarians “draft exemptions”.

    As for this:

    I have to wonder though what do other ex-catholics consider as defining step in becoming an ex-catholic? Simply not going to church anymore and/or joining another religion? Did anyone consider formal renounciation?

    I just stopped going to church, aside from attending funerals and weddings. Explaining why to my parents, when I still lived with them, was a bit rough, though. I never bothered with a formal renunciation. What do you think, should I publicly burn my baptismal certificate? 🙂 I know that in some European countries with state churches an assumption is made that one belongs to the established faith unless a disclamation to that effect is made, but here in the USA we are blissfully free of such nonsense.

    Kevin

  130. John: thank you for the quotes, I knew all that already, there remains the little fact that the 6 million people who ended up in concentration camps were Jews, not Christians. And Ratzinger’s statements addressed that as a mere “consequence” of Hitler’s goal of substituing religion with nazism.

    Also, as you can see yourself from the passages you quoted – “Both [christianity and bolshevism] are inventions of the Jew” – one could say that, if there is any subordinate relation between a main target and a secondary target, the attack on christianity was a consequence of the nazis antisemitism, as it is qualified as an attack on something invented by Jews.

    So for Ratzinger to claim it was the other way round, also given that little detail that Christians were very safe and sound in Germany, unless they overtly opposed the regime, is a bit bizarre, to say the least.

    Kevrob – I’m not misreading, I never claimed Ratzinger was an antisemite or that he only spoke condescendingly to Jews or that he refused any dialogue with Jewish communities. Ratzinger wrote that under Wojtyla’s pontificate and W. made the first papal visit to a synagogue and made important steps in reconciliation, he was friend with the Rome rabbi and even named him in his spiritual testament. That happened under Wojtyla’s leadership, not Ratzinger’s.
    I was only saying how that statement on Jewish persecution being a mere by-product of Christian persecution is, objectively, a distortion and an offence to history. That statement stood out among the rest of the opening, concilitatory, dialogue-promoting statements and gestures that John Paul II made.

    And it does bear a relation to his failure to include nazism and fascism in the list of crimes of non-christian thought.

    I expect that Ratzinger didn’t expressly condemn Nazism and Fascism in that speech because neither of them was considered an imminent threat to be installed as a governing ideology. That may be an ill-considered judgment, of course. The possibility of the former Red Russia turning Black still worries me, for example.

    I don’t understand what you mean – he failed to mention nazism both in his statements on Jews and the “anti-christian” persecution they suffered, and in his recent pre-election sermon where he talked of “relativism” in the negative sense and what he considers its historical by-products, not only what he sees as current dangers. Nazism and fascism were deliberately left out.

    This is not a peculiarity, it is a typical tradition of right wing factions of the Catholic church. It is one of the reasons why, even if it’s not his direct responsibility, Ratzinger is also seen with very much favour by the fringes of far-right traditionalist Catholic groups including those with neofascist sympathies.

  131. And on the Hitler Youth thing:

    As for his war service, the new Pope was 12-years old in 1939, when he first entered the minor seminary. When he was conscripted late in the war, the Nazis were not giving seminarians “draft exemptions”.

    I don’t know, but that’s not what others who had experience of living under that regime were saying. I don’t think it was a matter of automatic “draft exemptions”, but it seems being a seminarist afforded a lot more chances to escape the military service than for non-seminarists.

    For me, this is a minor point anyway, even if he hadn’t served in the nazi army, there’s still so much about what he stands for today that is controversial. But, even without exaggerating and conflating being drafted into the Hilter Youth and Werhmacht as nazi-support, one expects religious leaders to be willing to stand up to higher moral standards. So I can hardly blame people for being disturbed by that relatively minor point, too.

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