Part 1 of article
Joseph Ratzinger, also known as Pope Benedict XVI, bears the responsibility for the suffering of numerous people. The influential guest who will be arriving in Israel shortly is among the most conservative Church figures. The message he brings with him, as a supreme religious leader who according to Catholic tradition cannot be wrong, is not one of compassion, understanding, or tolerance.
In fact, this pope brings a wholly different message: One of indifference, strictness, and religious radicalism.
The days of his youth were grim: He joined the Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany at the age of 14 a short while after membership in the movement became mandatory. Two years later he was recruited to an anti-aircraft unit that protected a BMW plant manufacturing plane engines. The plant also employed forced labor from the Dachau concentration camp.
Ratzinger claims that he never took part in a battle. He was sent to Hungary, where he laid tank traps and saw Jews being sent to extermination camps. He defected from the Nazi army in April 1944 and for several weeks stayed at an American detention camp. Ratzinger and his brother claim they could not resist the Nazis.
After the war he embarked on religious studies and started formulating his strict views on issues of “morality and faith.” Ever since then he managed to exercise far-reaching influence on the Church. For many years, even before he was selected to lead the Church, Cardinal Ratzinger held the powerful post Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office, the historical Inquisition. In that role, and as pope at this time, he further toughened the decrees spread by the Vatican and its branches worldwide.
His strict attitude earned him various nicknames with a clear common denominator: The Enforcer, Panzerkardinal, and even God’s Rottweiler.
The pope is in the fact the person who currently leads the global resistance to abortions and prevents women from exercising their right for their bodies. For example, he forbids priests from mentioning the possibility of abortion to pregnant teens who turn to them in great despair. This is so even in cases of pregnancy as result of rape or incest.
The pope also leads the objection to the marriage of priests, fights against any recognition of homosexual partnership, and in fact gives his blessing to the discrimination against lesbians and gays.
Under his leadership, the Vatican is a fortress of darkness: According to his worldview, the Church must not adapt itself to the spirit of our times, and it must not bend in the face of “individualism.” The faithful must obey and suffer. And they are indeed suffering.
Of all the injustices committed by the pope, the gravest is his objection to the distribution of contraceptives in the Third World. It is difficult to estimate the number of miserable men and women in Africa, Asia, and South America who contracted AIDS and other diseases as direct result of this backward attitude, but we are talking about great masses.
Part 2 of article to be published Sunday night