Pope Benedict's Jewish Legacy Tarnished By Ties to Holocaust Deniers

News Analysis

getty images

By Reuters

Published February 11, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

Calling himself “a son of Germany,” he prayed and asked why God was silent when 1.5 million victims, most of them Jews, died there during World War Two.

Born Joseph Ratzinger, he served in the Hitler Youth during World War II when membership was compulsory. He was never a member of the Nazi party and his family opposed Adolf Hitler’s regime.

“Neither Ratzinger nor any member of his family was a National Socialist,” John Allen, a leading Church expert, wrote in a biography.

But his trip to Germany also prompted the first major crisis of his pontificate. In a university lecture he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying Islam had only brought evil to the world and that it was spread by the sword.

After protests that included attacks on churches in the Middle East and the killing of a nun in Somalia, the pope said he regretted any misunderstanding the speech caused.

In a move that was widely seen as conciliatory, he made a historic trip to predominantly Muslim Turkey in 2006 and prayed in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque with the city’s grand mufti. Benedict committed himself to Christian unity but other religions criticised him in 2007 when he approved a document that re-stated the Vatican position that all other Christian denominations apart from Catholicism were not full churches of Jesus Christ.

He confirmed his conservative view of other religions in 2011, when an inter-faith meeting in Assisi, Italy did not include the simultaneous common prayer that was held when John Paul initiated the gatherings in 1986.

At the same meeting however, he meekly acknowledged “with great shame” that Christianity had used force in its long history as he joined other religious leaders in condemning violence and terrorism in God’s name.

In 2007 Benedict made appointed a Polish bishop who once spied for communist police. The bishop had to stand down.

Benedict made a successful trip to the United States in 2008. He apologised for the sexual abuse scandal, promised that paedophile priests would go, and comforted abuse victims.

But 2009 became an annus horribilis for the pope as he made one misstep after another.

The pope prompted international outrage again in March of 2009, when he told reporters on a plane taking him to Africa and the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS only worsened the problems.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.