Joe and his former boss

It seems the pope and his friends are becoming a little too fond of the Nazi analogies.

Back in April this year Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, who is the pope’s preacher, likened what the church was going through as a result of the child sex abuse scandal to the persecution of the Jews under Hitler. Yesterday the old man drew parallels between the Nazi tyranny and “atheist extremism”, whatever that might be.

The owner of the world’s most famous smoking handbag should very well understand Nazi ideology having been a Hitler Jugend himself. (The Vatican now tries desperately to underplay this, saying that he was only doing what everyone his age was required to do.)

At the age of five Ratzinger is reported to have said that he wanted to be a cardinal. He entered the seminary in Traunstein, the initial step of his ecclesiastical career, in 1939, but wasn’t conscripted to the Hitler Youth until 1941. As a member he swore this oath: “In the presence of this bloodflag which represents our Fuhrer I swear to devote all my energies, all my strength, to the saviour of our country, Adolf Hitler. I am willing and ready to give up my life, so help me God. One People, One nation, One Fuhrer.”  So help me god! And what is an oath if not words said to god.

Ratzinger’s father had been a critic of the Nazis, believing that their creed was incompatible with catholicism. It seems that Ratzinger Jnr learned very early on the expedience of hypocrisy.

If we are in the land of historical comparison the pope should take a long hard look at the history of his own church. The catholic church sponsored the crusades, attacking jews and muslims alike and even, in the case of the Albigensian Crusade, other christians. Ancient history, you may say. Well, then, let’s get a bit more up to date:

  • in the years 1942-1943 in Croatia there existed numerous extermination camps, run by catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Paveliç, a practicing catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children! The most notorious camp was Jasenovac, headed by a Franciscan friar.
  • in the 1950’s in South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem was made president of South Vietnam. A fanatical catholic Diem saw to it that U.S. aid, food, technical and general assistance was given to catholics alone, buddhist individuals and villages were ignored or had to pay for the food aids which were given to catholics for free. The only religious denomination to be supported was roman catholicism. The Vietnamese McCarthyism turned even more vicious than its American counterpart. By 1956 Diem promulgated a presidential order which read:  “Individuals considered dangerous to the national defense and common security may be confined by executive order, to a concentration camp.” Supposedly to fight communism, thousands of buddhist protesters and monks were imprisoned in “detention camps.”
  • 1994 the involvement of catholic priests in the massacres in Rwanda.

History is littered with the remains of millions slaughtered in the name of religion and the roman catholic church, in particular, has a massive body count.

But the real reason the pope made his outrageous analogy is more simple. Obfuscation. He thinks that if he says something controversial it will deflect news attention away from the justified protests against him and the massive faults in his church.