26 April 2005

Whatever understandable lack of physical courage he displayed as a teenager is trumped a thousand times over by moral cowardice today

An insightful piece that echoes my thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI and his Nazi history as a youth in WWII Germany.
Clearly, when Ratzinger and his brother (who is also a priest) say that anti-Nazi resistance was "impossible," they're lying. And it's not an insignificant or harmless lie. Denying the option of resistance insults, indeed, denies the existence of, a lot of people who made far braver and more difficult decisions than the Ratzingers. Failing to exhibit extraordinary courage is human and understandable. Denying the extraordinarily courageous their due is shameful. Denying moral agency is surely unworthy of a man who would be pope.

The Ratzingers lie about this because if they admit that moral choices were involved, they'd have to explain their choice. In fact, I would suggest that anyone who cared about moral agency would recognize the need for self-reflection, for either admitting moral failure, or asserting moral principles. I can think of many possible explanations, but none of them fit well into black and white morality.

It's not that he was swept up in the tide of the time as a powerless youth, it's the notion that they had no choice at all. I could accept the justification that a frightened 14 year old would be incapable of arriving at such a moral decision, but to pronounce that there was no other choice strikes me as troublesome, because others in that setting faced the same peril, and came to a completely different conscientous choice.

Comments

Bullshit. Typical bullshit. Shame on you.
Conservatives like to point out his intellect, but the problem is that Benedict’s intellect is limited to his experience, almost all in top down institutions, a policeman father, the Nazi Youth Corps, a German boot camp, the seminary, academia, Vatican service. He has not even had the experience of pastoral ministry, caring directly for the needs of a flock and the conflicts of life with dogma. So his intellect is limited by a perspective based on limited experience.

This is a man who we know was raised in Hitler’s Germany. Even though he denies any affiliation with it he expresses through his history of dogma driven authoritarianism an obvious affinity for his experience with Nazism. It is said that he was turned from a moderate liberal (whatever the that is) to a conservative by student demands for equality and the right to question authority while on the faculty of University of Tübingen. His reaction appears to be a fear based view that saw the disorder of change in the sixties as comparable to the conditions of economic and cultural chaos feared by the establishment with the rise of Bolshevism. Much of the justification for the barbarism of the Nazis was the threat that the Bolshevik driven tide of trade unionism posed to the established order of wealth. While denying any affiliation with Nazism, he reflects that same reactionary dictatorial style to the concept of the masses having a voice in their own fate. From 1981 - 2005, Ratzinger was appointed by John Paul VI as the head of the Doctrine of Faith. As his pro George Bush Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club (yes there is such a thing http://www.ratzingerfanclub... ) gleefully states: “As "Grand Inquisitor" for Mother Rome, Ratzinger kept himself busy in service to the Truth: correcting theological error, silencing dissenting theologians, and stomping down heresy wherever it may rear its ugly head -- and, consequently, had received somewhat of a notorious reputation among the liberal media and 'enlightened' intelligentsia (ironically sic) of pseudo-Catholic universities.” The truth it seems is only available to theologians and American Presidents.
Chapman: *I* don't know - Mr Wentworth just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at the mill, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

[JARRING CHORD]
[The door flies open and Cardinal Ximinez of Spain [Palin] enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Biggles [Jones] has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fang [Gilliam] is just Cardinal Fang]

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

[The Inquisition exits]

Chapman: I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

[JARRING CHORD]
[The cardinals burst in]

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!
[To Cardinal Biggles] I can't say it - you'll have to say it.
Biggles: What?
Ximinez: You'll have to say the bit about 'Our chief weapons are ...'
Biggles: [rather horrified]: I couldn't do that...

[Ximinez bundles the cardinals outside again]

Chapman: I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

[JARRING CHORD]

[The cardinals enter]

Biggles: Er.... Nobody...um....
Ximinez: Expects...
Biggles: Expects... Nobody expects the...um...the Spanish...um...
Ximinez: Inquisition.
Biggles: I know, I know! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. In fact, those who do expect -
Ximinez: Our chief weapons are...
Biggles: Our chief weapons are...um...er...
Ximinez: Surprise...
Biggles: Surprise and --
Ximinez: Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there - stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah! ... our chief weapons are surprise...blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.
Fang: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates commit heresy against the Holy Church. 'My old man said follow the--'
Biggles: That's enough.
[To Cleveland] Now, how do you plead?
Clevelnd: We're innocent.
Ximinez: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

[DIABOLICAL LAUGHTER]

Biggles: We'll soon change your mind about that!

[DIABOLICAL ACTING]

Ximinez: Fear, surprise, and a most ruthless-- [controls himself with a supreme effort] Ooooh! Now, Cardinal -- the rack!

[Biggles produces a plastic-coated dish-drying rack. Ximinez looks at it and clenches his teeth in an effort not to lose control. He hums heavily to cover his anger]

Ximinez: You....Right! Tie her down.

[Fang and Biggles make a pathetic attempt to tie her on to the drying rack]

Ximinez:Right! How do you plead?
Clevelnd: Innocent.
Ximinez: Ha! Right! Cardinal, give the rack [oh dear] give the rack a turn.

[Biggles stands their awkwardly and shrugs his shoulders]

Biggles: I....
Ximinez: [gritting his teeth] I *know*, I know you can't. I didn't want to say anything. I just wanted to try and ignore your crass mistake.
Biggles: I...
Ximinez: It makes it all seem so stupid.
Biggles: Shall I...?
Ximinez: No, just pretend for God's sake. Ha! Ha! Ha!
[Biggles turns an imaginary handle on the side of the dish-rack]

[Cut to them torturing a dear old lady, Marjorie Wilde]

Ximinez: Now, old woman -- you are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action -- *four* counts. Do you confess?
Wilde: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Ximinez: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! Biggles! Fetch...THE CUSHIONS!

[JARRING CHORD]

[Biggles holds out two ordinary modern household cushions]

Biggles: Here they are, lord.
Ximinez: Now, old lady -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly -- *two* last chances. And you shall be free -- *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Wilde: I don't know what you're talking about.
Ximinez: Right! If that's the way you want it -- Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!

[Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture]

Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles: It doesn't seem to be hurting her, lord.
Ximinez: Have you got all the stuffing up one end?
Biggles: Yes, lord.
Ximinez [angrily hurling away the cushions]: Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch...THE COMFY CHAIR!

[JARRING CHORD]

[Zoom into Fang's horrified face]

Fang [terrified]: The...Comfy Chair?

[Biggles pushes in a comfy chair -- a really plush one]

Ximinez: So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!

[They roughly push her into the Comfy Chair]

Ximinez [with a cruel leer]: Now -- you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven. [aside, to Biggles] Is that really all it is?
Biggles: Yes, lord.
Ximinez: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, woman. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess
Biggles: I confess!
Ximinez: Not you!
"Truth And Tolerance: Christian Belief And World Religions
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Henry Taylor

Book Description
Is truth knowable? If we know the truth, must we hide it in the name of tolerance? Cardinal Ratzinger engages the problem of truth, tolerance, religion and culture in the modern world. Describing the vast array of world religions, Ratzinger embraces the difficult challenge of meeting diverse understandings of spiritual truth while defending the Catholic teaching of salvation through Jesus Christ. "But what if it is true?" is the question that he poses to cultures that decry the Christian position on man's redemption. Upholding the notion of religious truth while asserting the right of religious freedom, Cardinal Ratzinger outlines the timeless teaching of the Magisterium in language that resonates with our embattled culture. A work of extreme sensitivity, understanding, and spiritual maturity, this book is an invaluable asset to those who struggle to hear the voice of truth in the modern religious world.

"Beyond all particular questions, the real problem lies in the question about truth. Can truth be recognized? Or, is the question about truth simply inappropriate in the realm of religion and belief? But what meaning does belief then have, what positive meaning does religion have, if it cannot be connected with truth?"

—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger From the Preface
"

"God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Stephan Otto Horn, Vinzenz Pfnur, Henry Taylor
Book Description
The Second Vatican Council says, "We ought to try to discover a new reverence for the Eucharistic mystery. Something is happening that is greater than anything we can do. The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is the font from which all her power flows."
This profound statement about the Eucharist stands at the center of this book by Cardinal Ratzinger. He compellingly shows us the biblical, historical, and theological dimensions of the Eucharist. The Cardinal draws far-reaching conclusions, focusing on the importance of one's personal devotion to and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, for the personal reception of Communion by the individual Christian, as well as for the life of the Church. For Ratzinger, any transformation of the world on the social plane grows out of the celebration of the Eucharist. He beautifully illustrates how the omnipotent God comes intimately close to us in the Holy Eucharist, the Heart of Life.

From the Publisher
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is one of the most renowned Catholic theological and spiritual writers of our times. His numerous books include God and the World, Salt of the Earth, and The Spirit of the Liturgy."

"The Spirit of the Liturgy
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, John Saward\

Book Description
Considered by Ratzinger devotees as his greatest work on the Liturgy, this profound and beautifully written treatment of the "great prayer of the Church" will help readers rediscover the Liturgy in all its hidden spiritual wealth and transcendent grandeur as the very center of our Christian life.
In his own foreward to the book, Cardinal Ratzinger compares this work to a much earlier classic of the same title by Romano Guardini because Ratzinger feels that his insights here are similar with what Guardini achieved in his time regarding a renewed understanding of the Liturgy.

"My purpose here is to assist this renewal of understanding of the Liturgy. Its basic intentions coincide with what Guardini wanted to achieve. The only difference is that I have had to translate what Guardini did at the end of the First World War, in a totally different historical situation, into the context of our present-day questions, hopes and dangers. Like Guardini, I am not attempting to involve myself with scholarly discussion and research. I am simply offering an aid to the understanding of the faith and to the right way to give the faith its central form of expression in the Liturgy."

—Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger"

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