(Valencia, Spain) July 8, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Spain SaturdayThe pope wasted no time in defending the Vatican's vision of marriage as a union of man and woman. In arrival remarks he said ``the family is a unique institution in God's plan, and the church cannot fail to proclaim and promote its fundamental importance.''Earlier Spain's King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero greeted the pope and a military band played the national anthems of the Vatican and Spain.Shortly after arriving the pope was to ride into town in his bullet-proof ``pope mobile'' to pray at the station where Spain's worst-ever subway accident occurred on Monday. Crowds awaited the pope at the ill-fated Jesus subway station in the city center.
In 1943, when he was 16, Ratzinger was drafted with many of his classmates into the Luftwaffenhelfer (Air Force Auxiliary) programme. After his class was released from the Corps in September 1944, Ratzinger was put to work setting up anti-tank defences in the Hungarian border area of Austria in preparation for the expected Red Army offensive. He was eventually drafted into the German army at Munich to receive basic infantry training in the nearby town of Traunstein. His unit served at various posts around the city and was never sent to the front. Ratzinger was briefly interned in an Allied prisoner-of-war camp near Ulm and was repatriated on June 19, 1945. The family was reunited when his brother, Georg, returned after being repatriated from a prisoner-of-war camp in Italy.
Ratzinger's claim that the annihilation of the Jews was really just an indirect assault on Christianity is absurd and unforgivable. How degrading it is, at Auschwitz, to speak of Judaism as "the taproot of Christianity" rather than as the faith of so many who perished there! to see behind the Nazis' annihilation of six million Jews an "ultimate" motive to strike at Christianity. Worst still history speaks of the collusion of the Catholic Church with the Nazi Germany and the silence of Pope Pius XII in those days.
The Vatican also used gold plundered from Holocaust victims in Yugoslavia during the Second World War to smuggle war criminals into Latin America and the Middle East. The allegations relate to a US Treasury memo of October 1946 by Emerson Bigelow, who worked for the Treasury's monetary research unit and who received reliable information from the OSS, precursor of the CIA, on Nazi wealth held in specific Swiss accounts. Bigelow's memo claims that the Ustashas, the Nazi puppet regime of Croatia, used the Vatican to look after part of the millions of dollars' worth of gold and jewellery which they plundered from 900,000 Jews, Serbs, Croat moderates and gipsies they had put to death. the memo says that one third of the estimated 350 million Swiss francs which the Ustashas tried to remove from Yugoslavia was impounded by the British at the Austrian-Yugoslav border. The remaining 200 million "was originally held in the Vatican for safe-keeping," to keep the gold from falling into the hands of the Allies. While stating this as fact, the document also quotes rumours saying a large portion of the Vatican-held money was sent through its "pipeline" to Spain and Argentina to pay for war criminals to be smuggled out of Europe.
Ratzinger places a specific human face on the horror of Auschwitz and the face he sees is the face of a person who left Judaism behind to become a Catholic. So many Jewish authors, actors, scientists, lawyers, doctors, politicians, artists, and musicians were murdered there. And so many rabbis. And yet the face that makes the horror real to Josef Ratzinger is the face of a Jew who converted to Catholicism, and who died not only "with" the Jews, but somehow also "for" them. How audacious, this singling out of one ex-Jew's death for special mention, an act of supposed martyrdom, of "dying for" others while everyone else around her merely "died with" each other. How disrespectful of the memories of the unconverted Jews in that gas chamber, those men, women and children who died with each other, but without the significance of Christian martyrdom. The anti-Semitic broadcasts of radio Maria (the Catholic Church's station in Poland), continues to operate unrepentently. His insulting call to the Jews, in March 2006 to convert to Christianity, "to allow themselves to be reunited in a new covenant, full and perfect accomplishment of the old Testament?" was the same demand that Hitler and the German Christians made in the 1930s, the same demand for which Jews were persecuted, murdered and burned. Sixty years have passed, but one German remained true to his anti-Jewish stance. Following the Nazi tradition, it is not surprising that Pope Benedict is against Gays as he is against Jews.
Spain has passed from being a bastion of Roman Catholicism to a predominantly lay society in less than a generation. Statistics show that while 80 percent of Spaniards still call themselves Catholics only 42 percent believe in God and 20 percent go to Mass. However, the pope visit to Valencia will draw 1 million people to this Mediterranean port city.
The pope and the Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero were also scheduled to meet for what could be a difficult dialogue besides legalizing gay marriage, Zapatero's government has made it easier for Spaniards to divorce and halted a plan by a previous, conservative government to make religion classes mandatory in public schools. Unlike the past, the Pope could not call upon another inquisition. The Vatican seemed irritated that Zapatero was not planning to attend a papal Mass on Sunday.
|Hitler wth Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the papal nuncio in Berlin, 1935
On April 20, 1939, Archbishop Orsenigo celebrated Hitler's birthday. The celebrations, initiated by Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) became a tradition. Each April 20, Cardinal Bertram of Berlin was to send "warmest congratulations to the Fuhrer in the name of the bishops and the dioceses in Germany" and added with "fervent prayers which the Catholics of Germany are sending to heaven on their altars."
|The Concordat between the Vatican and the Nazis
Cardinal Secretary of State, Eugenio Pacelli (later to become Pope Pius XII) signs the Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican at a formal ceremony in Rome on 20 July 1933. Nazi Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen sits at the left, Pacelli in the middle, and the Rudolf Buttmann sits at the right.
The Concordat effectively legitimized Hitler and the Nazi government to the eyes of Catholicism, Christianity, and the world.
|Catholic Bishops giving the Nazi salute in honor of Hitler|