Oznia, a blog of Israel things

~Pope Benedict XVI: Not a Nazi, Never a Nazi by elan

Pope Benedict XVI, the current leader of the Catholic Church, is currently making a high-visibility pilgrimage to the Middle East. He first met with Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II and offered mass to Catholics in Amman. The Pope then traveled to Israel, touring holy sites, engaging in inter-religious dialog and meeting President Shimon Peres. (Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is in Egypt for a conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.) Benedict vists Israel Pres. Peres

After briefly surveying the international media, it seems that the most contentious part of the Pope’s trip has been his visit to Yad Va’Shem, Israel’s national holocaust museum. Though not a religious or historic site, the Israeli government generally insists that all visiting foreign heads of state visit the solemn commemoration in order to appreciate and understand the necessity of a Jewish state and refuge. The Pope has been criticized for avoiding certain elements of the museum, including an exhibit that highlights the silence of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust. In addition, Benedict has taken fire for his broad, general remarks at the museum and a general lack of acknowledgment and reference to the horrors of the calamity.

Whether the Pope was specific enough is a difficult call to make. Some go so far as to claim that the Pope spoke in generalities to mask his own involvement in the conflict. Benedict, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, was a member of the Hitler Youth and later, the German Army. However, it is clear that the Pope was never a Nazi. He was conscripted into the Hitler Youth like every other German teenager. As the German war effort collapsed, he was drafted into an anti-aircraft artillery group. One could hardly claim that a minor, forced against his will to fight, embraced the Nazi philosophy. Furthermore, it is dishonest to label the entire Wermacht as Nazi foot-soldiers. While the relationship between Catholics and Jews may not be particularly warm, it is disingenuous to lambast the Catholic leader.


7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thank you for your last paragraph. Indeed he never was a Nazi, neither ere his parents. The opposite is true. He forfeited his tuition fees because he did not attend the Hitler Jugend meetings and his family was not at all well off either. I’ve watched his Yad Veshem address. Beautiful and deeply moving. Can’t understand why a Pope should lambast the whole German nation, when thousands were in any case against the Nazis.Neither were all Christian in German Nazis. But this is what the Jews wanted to hear him say. Perhaps they should leave that to Angela Merkel who is the head of state of Germany. The Pope is not.

Comment by petrushka

That is exactly the point I was trying to get across. While it seems that many Jews were looking for stronger words from the Pope, I felt his speech was acceptable. I’m Jewish, if you couldn’t guess.

Comment by elan

Before everyone dismisses the pope, let’s get a few things straight.
First of all, he was a member of the Hitler youth. Whether it was mandatory or not, he was, and as a result, it is fair game for us to grill him on that. Furthermore, it is the Vatican that has made this a bigger issue than it needs to be with all of its contradictions. One day they say he was NOT in the Hitler Youth, then, a few days later, they say he was forced.

Comment by joshman91@comcast.net

Josh, please get your facts straight. The Pope never denied his participation in the Hitler Youth. See my second link the the NYT above (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/world/middleeast/13pope.html):

“But in saying that the pope, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, had never served in the Hitler Youth, Father Lombardi contradicted the statements from the pope himself, who never hid what he and others have said was his unwilling conscription.”

Furthermore, I am astonished that you are willing to disregard the nature of J. Ratzinger’s membership in the Hitler Youth. He was a MINOR, who claims to have been enlisted against his will. Can he really be criticized for being forced to join part of the Nazi propaganda machine? This is very different from becoming an SS soldier.

Comment by elan

I am not going to give the pope the benefit of the doubt, and to be honest, the Yad Vashem speech was the least of his faults.
On a general note, since the dawn of the “war on terror,” the Catholic Church has acted cowardly. In addition, it has never sought any dialogue with the Jewish State, and the pope’s recent lift of the excommunication of a holocaust denier shows how much they could care less about their relations with the Jewish people.
On top of that, the pope felt that it was acceptable for the Church to politicize his trip to Israel, by which he chose to back a “two state solution” (whatever that means) and totally condemn the Israeli government. It was inappropriate for the pope to criticize the Israeli government’s actions (taken in the name of the security of its own people) while standing in front of a SECURITY barrier in the Judea/Samaria region.

The icing on the cake was when the pope said Israel should lift its embargo on the Gaza Strip.

Folks, the Vatican could care less about the Jewish State. If we are going to seek dialogue and alliance with Christians, then we should listen to the Evangelicals (most of whom support the Jewish State unequivocally) and quit wasting our time with such a corrupt, cowardly organization.

Comment by joshman91@comcast.net

Hello again, Josh.

The Pope is a sovereign head of state. His trip to Israel was made in his capacity as head of the Vatican City. I am confused as to why you feel ‘politicization’ is inappropriate. The Vatican has its own agenda, just like any other regime.

I agree that the reinstatement of some anti-semitic and Holocaust-denying elements of the Church was a big blunder. Let’s keep in mind that even the ADL ( http://www.adl.org/PresRele/VaticanJewish_96/44698_96.htm ) celebrated the Pope’s inauguration.

One last thing–I think the support of Evangelicals for Israel is less about the state itself, or any strong Zionistic emotions on their part. They simply see the elimination of Muslims from Israel, and the restoration of all Jews to the Holy Land, as an integral step on the road to the Third Coming. They do not have the same goals as us and will certainly not act as the voices of moderation necessary to form a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Comment by elan

Sweet blog. I never know what I am going to come across next. I think you should do more posting as you have some pretty intelligent stuff to say.

I’ll be watching you . 🙂

Comment by Haigmaget

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: