Joseph Ratzinger (AKA – The Pope) had this to say about Hitler and the Nazis on his first day in Edinburgh:
Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a ‘reductive vision of the person and his destiny.’
One does have to wonder if Ratzinger has ever opened a book on history. One would think it may not be necessary, since he actually lived through it and witnessed the atrocities of the Nazi party as a compulsory member of the Hitler Youth during World War II. However, historical inaccuracies aside, I have a major problem with Ratzinger’s statement.
He singles out atheists as if all of them are hate mongering, murderous extremists. Ratzinger whimsically profiles an entire demographic of our society with no basis whatsoever for doing so, which clearly demonstrates that he didn’t learn a valuable lesson about haphazardly profiling people during World War II. The historically inaccurate statement that ‘Hitler and the Nazi party were all atheists’ simply isn’t true and is a crass, inflammatory statement intended to stir up fear and anger in people who are uneducated about the history of World War II and Hitler. Sadly, people listen to that man as viable source of information. But even more sadly, Ratzinger views himself as one. And he clearly isn’t.
And even if Hitler hadn’t been a confirmed Catholic, (which he was) and hadn’t claimed that his attempted extermination of Jewish people was a war waged on behalf of God, (which he did) and was actually an atheist, blaming atheism for the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust would be no more logical than saying, “Hitler, Stalin, and Wario all have mustaches, therefore all people with mustaches are evil.”
People are entitled to have faith in whatever they so choose. But I just hope that when it comes to high ranking religious officials like the Pope, people exercise a little bit of judgment and critical thinking skills before they eat out of his hand.
And Joseph Ratzinger, of all people, should know better than attempting to stir up unfounded fears and unjust persecution towards specific members of our society.