Newspaper covers around the world today have headlines such as Britain’s “The Sun”, which is running “From Hitler Youth to Papa Ratzi” concerning the new Pope.
I’ve read some stories which mention the Hitler Youth membership of Pope Benedict XVI, and then lightly dust over it in the story. This is obviously an attempt to distort and disparage the past of who they consider to be a conservative.
Technically, the “Hitler Youth” headlines is true. Yes, Ratzinger was a member… but, membership was mandatory in Hitler’s Germany. Some of the stories fail to mention this. Whoops! What a convenient accident.
Some stories, such as this one, are good enough to mention that Ratzinger’s father refused to join the Nazi party and his life was made miserable as a result, and that Ratzinger served in the military for a short time, but then deserted and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp.
The aforementioned story does have one crack up in it:
“Ratzinger has defended himself from criticism of his war record by claiming – not strictly truthfully – that he could not have avoided military service in the circumstances.”
Ratzinger said he couldn’t avoid military service and that “isn’t strictly truthful”? Well, strictly speaking, that’s correct. In a dictatorship, you do have more than one choice: Do what the state tells you to do, or get shot. Silly Ratzinger didn’t exercise all his options.
To take the realm of the ill-informed a bit further, for some reason, I’m guessing that at least a few people are going to believe some of those spoof news stories concerning Ratzinger, such as “The first former cast member of ‘Cheers’ becomes Pope– Changes name from ‘Cliff’ to ‘Benedict XVI'”.
First off, Cliff was played by John Ratzenberger. Secondly, sorry to burst the bubble, but the following picture is fake: