19 April 2005

the more i read about ratzinger, the more upset i get. the piece that is linked is an exploration of his past, which involved a brief, and probably compulsory, stint in the hitler youth and army service at a factory that utilized dachau prisoners as slave labor. he defected toward the end of the war and claims never to have fired a shot...

...which is so not good enough. the worst of it is that he sees no particular need to defend his decision not to resist, let alone any of the humility or thoughtful contrition that should probably mark a person who (a) wishes to be the spiritual leader of untold masses and (b) participated in a machine that murdered other untold masses. it is arguable, though by no means certain, that we can explain and defend ordinary germans who served hitler without committing atrocities themselves. but in many senses this is no ordinary german. i would expect a man who would be pope to have proven himself by either taking the risk that resistance implied or searchingly, painfully prostrating himself in the years that followed.

then again, maybe that expectation is a tad overoptimistic, given the vatican's usual stance on...practically everything. one of my office-mates jokingly suggested that ratzinger would "rescind the vatican's apology for the holocaust," but in thinking about it a bit more closely it seems that the conclave has already done that job for him.

and that is just (just?!) the past! as the defender of doctrinal order, over the past several years ratzinger has been the go-to guy for reactionary dogma, refusing entirely to consider any changes in the status of women or the church's stance toward birth control, homosexuality, etc. this is a pope the republican party can get behind: in ratzinger's head, morality, being a concept exclusively concerned with sex, has no room for piddling considerations like global public health or poverty. did somebody in the conclave stand up in front of the assembled cardinals and say, gee guys, i really don't think we've done enough to allow the spread of AIDS in africa?

thank God i'm a protestant.