Let's get one thing clear: Joseph Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth. He had the misfortune to be born in Germany 73 years ago. He was fourteen years old, probably not very bright (
it's always the family idiot who takes the Cloth), and if you didn't join you got shot. Calling him a Nazi Pope is lazy. Let's blame him for all of the things that are his fault.
That said, this ridiculous speech in which he equates atheists with Nazis simply goes to illustrate the levels of hypocrisy that only an organization like the Catholic Church can reach. The Nazis were bad: on this His Holiness and I agree. But you were there, dude, and what the fuck did you do about it?
I wasn't born until long after the Nazis had been defeated. If I had been, you can be sure that there would have at least been a blog post or two. But Ratzinger paid lip service to their morals, waited sixty years, and then tried to blame all of their crimes on atheism. You bastard.
I watched a reasonably interesting documentary [Iplayer, available until Wednesday] about Ratzingerdict last night, notable mostly for further displays of this same hypocrisy. The documentarian is a gay Catholic and he interviews a couple of other gay Catholics. All of them seem to be fine with the concept that their own Church wants them to go to Hell (
it's not a priority for me), because the Church does many other good things. It then totally fails to specify what those other good things are, but at one point the VO mumbles something about building a dialogue with the faithless. He then spends the rest of the hour talking about how much the Pope hates secular humanists: more so, it would seem, than he hates child molesters. Dear reader, you might want to use this as an indication of the Holy Father's balance of mind. Secular humanism is a great evil to be stamped out, believes the Pontiff—and this is, after all, the reason for his visit to these shores, the UK being a hotbed of secularism. I, for one, am (still) proud to live in a third world country.
The documentary jumps about from place to place and never reaches any sort of conclusion. If it were up to me, given the same raw material, I could have done an interesting, poignant piece about a man who grew up liberal, formed hardline opinions during the student riots, wants to continue his scholarly work but can't because he's duty-bound to be the Pope. Could have been a marvellous, humanizing piece about the man behind the monster, still totally within BBC impartiality guidelines. But even the Catholic who produced the documentary about the man doesn't seem to know what to make of him.
Plus, they get as far as interviewing his elderly brother, and this is apparently some sort of journalistic coup. This is the BBC. It should have gone like this:
Dear [some cardinal, any one, really]
Hello, we're the most respected broadcasting institution in the world, and we'd like to do an interview with your boss. Tuesday okay for you?
The Pope is many things: he's a doddery old man with a charming smile, and almost everything else about him is monstrous. But he's not a Nazi. He's just very, very bad at Godwin's Law.