- The Washington Times - Friday, April 29, 2005

‘Nazi pope a clear and present danger to the civilized world,’ read the headline of a reader’s letter in a forum of NYTimes.com, the New York Times’ Web site.

‘Joseph Ratzinger, (is) a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth,’ Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote.

‘For American Catholics — especially women and pro-choice Catholic pols — the cafeteria is officially closed. After all, Cardinal Ratzinger, nicknamed ‘God’s Rottweiler’ and ‘the Enforcer,’ helped deny Communion rights to John Kerry. …’

It wasn’t the worst abuse leveled at Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, a German. Type the words ‘Nazi pope’ into the Google search line, and you will get nearly 700 mentions.

‘Seig Heil, hail Mary!’ read one post, misspelling the German word for victory, which is ‘Sieg.’

‘What can you expect from a filthy Nazi?’ asked one blogger quoted, with horror, by National Review Online.

‘They knock the Germans but they are motivated by their anti-Catholicism,’ Catholic League President William Donohue proposed.

The term ‘Nazi pope’ in the New York Times caused dismay at the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith.

‘We reject that outright,’ ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinebaum told UPI. Her national director, Abraham H. Foxman, had welcomed the cardinal’s election.

‘Cardinal Ratzinger has great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust. He has shown this sensitivity countless times,’ Mr. Foxman said.

One German-American counterpart to the ADL declined to protest.

‘We are somewhat reticent,’ Ernst Ott, chairman of the German-American National Congress known as DANK, told UPI.

‘We mustn’t react impulsively. The more we say the worse things become. It’s much better to enlighten people.’

Some German Americans who believe that this kind of quietism has only made matters worse.

‘Ever since Ratzinger has become pope, I have a hard time bringing down my blood sugar level,’ complained Werner Baroni, a diabetic, and the former editor and publisher of Amerika-Woche, a German-language weekly.

‘I don’t know what upsets me more — the insults or the historical sloppiness with which the American media treat Ratzinger’s youth,’ he said.

‘They show an old photograph of a young man in uniform claiming that was Ratzinger in the Hitler Youth. In reality, the picture showed him in the fatigues of an anti-aircraft gunner.’

True, the new pope was in the Hitler Youth, the paramilitary organization in which membership was compulsory after 1941. Still, he managed to drop out by insisting that it was incompatible with his life in a preseminary.

The Jerusalem Post cleared him of any culpability and ridiculed those who suggest that Pope Benedict was a closet Nazi. It mocked people accusing him of being a ‘theological anti-Semite for believing in Jesus so strongly that — gasp! — he thinks anyone, even Jews, should accept him as the Messiah.’

Added the Post, ‘To all this we should say, ‘This is news?”

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