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The BBC thinks the Pope has a ‘Nazi past’

Footage of the Hitler Youth, St Peter’s and the Pope holding his head in his hands carries a subliminal message

By on Wednesday, 15 September 2010

St Peter's: the patrimony of the Church, not an emblem of papal grandeur (Photo: PA)

St Peter's: the patrimony of the Church, not an emblem of papal grandeur (Photo: PA)

Not having a TV, I nipped round to my mother’s house the other evening to watch the six o’clock news on BBC One on her screen. As I had anticipated, there was an item on the forthcoming visit of the Holy Father. Full of soundbites rather than sound and fury, it showed old footage of Hitler Youth marching off in their shorts, shots of the interior of St Peter’s, the Pope with his face in his hands and a solemn commentary referring to the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy and the implied “homophobia” of Catholic teaching. For ignorant viewers – and most viewers are ignorant when it comes to Catholic matters – it gives a subliminal message that the Church is in crisis and the Pope, dogged by a “Nazi” past, in deep distress.

As someone who rarely watches TV it struck me more forcibly than it might those who watch regularly and who therefore might have become immunised against its effect, that the BBC news on television is a spectator sport; a visual drama designed to entertain and play upon the emotions. The background sound effects abet the process. It is all quite legitimate merely as cinema; as a supposed vehicle of accurate information, it is simply fiction.

It should not need repeating, but the Pope does not have a Nazi past; he was forcibly conscripted into the Hitler Youth during his teens. St Peter’s is not an emblem of papal grandeur and luxury; it is the patrimony of the Church, just as Buckingham Palace – apparently rather shabby these days – is the patrimony of the nation. When the Pope is filmed with his face in his hands he is most likely at prayer. The question of sexual abuse, as well as “hard” Catholic teachings, has already been ably dealt with in William Oddie’s recent blogs. If this is the way that the BBC is limbering up for the Pope’s visit, it does not bode well – but I shall try to keep an open mind as media coverage unfolds.

To add to the jollity the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has produced a sheet entitled “Some Helpful Hints: terms for Catholic events”. Clearly designed to enlighten all those ignorant viewers who might be confused by the strange words used during the commentary accompanying the Holy Father, it explains that “congregation” means “audience” or “crowd”; “liturgy” or “Mass” means “event” or even “show” or “gig”; liturgists are “performers” or “artists”; the word “altar” means “table”; the “sanctuary” is a “stage”; and the “sacristy” is “backstage”.

Has the Bishops’ Conference decided to take Shakespeare’s speech about all the world being a stage a little too literally? No wonder that television has turned into mass entertainment when the most serious action in the whole of human history is described by believers as the equivalent of a “gig”.

  • Juliana

    So who needs enemies when you have the Bishops Conference Helpful Hints?!

  • Frederique Lamans

    there was no forced inscription to the hitler youth.

    if ratzinger was in the hitler youth, he was a nazi and then he has a nazi past.

    the question i have is, if he still is a nazi and how much he was personally involved in silencing children who where abused by catholic priests.

    but i guess the catholic herald rather follows the tradition of not asking and not talking about it

  • Athanasius Kircher

    Membership of the Hitler Youth became mandatory in December 1936, under the “Gesetz uber die Hitlerjugend” law and was reaffirmed in 1939 by the “Jugenddienstpflicht”. Josef Ratzinger (born 1927) joined when he was 14, which unless my arithmetic fails me, would have been in 1941. In 1943, Ratzinger was conscripted into the “Flakhelfer”, which consisted of crews which assisted Luftwaffe anti-aircraft guns.

    Renata Augerer*, who went to school with both Josef and Georg Ratzinger has said that Josef was “certainly not for Hitler”.

    The idea that Pope Benedict was a Nazi is simply not supported by the evidence.


  • David JJ Facciolo, Esquire

    The Holy Father is a holy and devout man.

    The Holy Father's brother refused conscription.

    Thousands of Catholic priests and seminarians

    were martyred as result of the Nazis.

    The Pope's unit did kill Allied soldiers in the war.

    The Holy Father sees himself as entirely a victim in all of this

    and he was a undeniably victim of the conscription


    there may have been a call to resist that he did not hear.

    This is why in the “Confetior”, we pray for forgiveness sins

    of “commission” as well as “omission”.

    I for one wish the Holy Father would address this issue

    of his past more forthrightly and lay to rest this shibboleth.

  • GFFM

    Joseph Ratzinger's father was a known and public critic of Nazism and was forced to move in order to protect his family from the spread of the ideology. This is a matter of eye witness testimony. The BBC's constant innuendo about Benedict's past, betrays a kind of desperate bigotry protected by the facade of legitimate journalism. The BBC wouldn't know a fact about anything authentically Catholic if it hit them in the face.

  • lokionline

    David JJ Facciolo I like the way you present your point of view. I agree a little more light on this subject would help a great deal. From the stories I have heard my own Grandfather was involved as an instructor with the hitler youth . I too have some questions about how much choice these men felt they had.

  • ChrisB

    Suggest you get your facts straight before you start spouting rubbish

  • Popes and Papacy

    Walter Kasper's remarks about Britain being a third world country were not smart.

    I, as a proud Brit, react to them, angrily in:

    Please read.
    Anura Guruge

  • Xtopep

    i feel i dont know enough about how the Church in Germany behaved during the Nazi regime. I wish I had been told about this as a child. I dont even feel I can defend Pacelli. but i was relieved to hear Jonathan Sacks praise the actions of JXXIII on Thought for Today this morning.

  • Stephen of Adelaide

    Don't you have broadcasting standards in the UK? If so, then the BBC has probably contravened them, and you should write first to the BBC, and then, if not satisfied, to the broadcasting standards body. Here in Australia no broadcaster is allowed to present such rubbish as “news”, but the public broadcaster, ABC, is especially accountable.

  • Kcphilllips

    Not even worth a comment. This is ignorance at the highest level and the media a workshop of the devil, satan is their god and their commandments are to do the opposite of the Ten. I pray that good people will not take this bilge seriously and that the Shepherds will wake up and smell the roses folks. The Shepherd who leads his flock into confusion will line the streets of hell with his skull.

    Pray for our Priests…

  • Chris

    Most of the BBC was too fawning to the Popes visit. No one else who helps the global spread of AIDs, denounces abortion even for the most vulnerable women in society, is a proven member of the Nazi Youth and tacitly supports child abuse gets such an easy ride from the BBC.

  • Sean Houlihane

    Hang on, isn't the pope saying that it's us atheists who are nazis?

  • One of your children

    That's right Mum, start watching TV now that we've all grown up and left home!

  • Jason

    I think the Pope is an evil man, his response to the child molestation scandal is unreal and he deserves all the bad press the BBC can muster. Just another case of organised religion spreading pain and suffering.

    Oh and in what way are Atheists Nazis? The Nazis where Roman Catholics that didn't much like the Jews…. Like the Pope lmao What an idiot.

  • Joe
  • Ric

    There was NO FORCED inscription to the hitler youth. You either are for the Nazi's or not he decided to join and so far has made no appoligy or justification so far of his mistake for this or re-inscripting a pro Nazi back (mr Newman) back into the catholic preisthood. I think it is sad, I hope the church can do something internally to remove and replace this bad egg

  • Rusty

    Yes many converted to become Catholics and then the pope at the time allowed the nazi's to still take them away to the death camps. That was kind of the pope too.

  • Tom franks

    I agree

  • Ratbag

    Yes, I had a giggle at the “Some Helpful Hints: terms for Catholic events” when I received my Pilgrim's Passport and the rest of the kit. Surely, it could have been written in the style of 'Catholicism for Dummies' . I heard a rabbi on the radio the other day describe Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles yet did not use such hip terminology as in the 'Helpful Hints…' I'm sure the listener got what he said straight away!

    It's a wonder the Popemobile wasn't described as a 'tour bus'!

  • njme

    I do not know how much of a choice the Pope felt he had, but I cannot understand why after what he did to save his own life, he insists that condoms not be used by those who have no other choice especially in countries like Africa. AIDS is a death sentence in a third world country for the parent and the child.

  • Parasum

    “It should not need repeating, but the Pope does not have a Nazi past; he was forcibly conscripted into the Hitler Youth during his teens.”

    ## Which he did not leave at once. And Hitler, no one else, was the Supreme Commander of the Army in which Ratzinger fought as – IIRC – a gunner.  To quote another poster:

    “I do not know how much of a choice the Pope felt he had, but I cannot understand why after what he did to save his own life, he insists that condoms not be used by those who have no other choice especially in countries like Africa.”

    ## Exactly. If he expects others to behave with heroism when living in extremely difficult situations – as
    Franz Jägerstätter did, and others – it is not unfair to try his behaviour by the same standard.   How is that unkind or unfair ? Is it wrong to expect a Pope should show the virtues which he requires in others ?

    “…a solemn commentary referring to the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy

    ## The sexual abuse, and its commission by Catholic clergy, are both facts.

    “and the implied “homophobia” of Catholic teaching.”

    ## And it is homophobic. Not an well-formed word, admittedly, but the meaning is clear enough.

    “For ignorant viewers – and most viewers are ignorant when it comes to Catholic matters – it gives a subliminal message that the Church is in crisis”

    ## The Church has been hit by several crises at once, so that seems a pretty accurate “message”. If the “ignorant viewers” include Catholics, the quotation is a damning comment on the quality of the pastoral care given by bishops and priests; which implies gross negligence on the part of the authority that selected those who are  bishops to hold that office.  

    What *would* count as a crisis, if the current crises don’t merit the name ?

  • christ wallbanger

    I find it bizarre that you are defending Gods voice on earth from being a member of the Hitler Youth movement, all this proves is that the Pope was not mentally strong enough to say no to a tyrant and his evil plans,at a time when Pope Pius x11 did nothing, not even condone the actions of Hitler against the Jews.
    I think you will find that the Pope himself has stated in interview that both he and his brother were in the HY, even though a representative for the Pope said he had “never,never,never” been in the movement.
    It is documented fact that child rape is a disease running wild in the Catholic church.

    The Pope does not equal the absolute evil of God in the old testament ,dont get me wrong noone could surpass those horrendous attrocities of destruction and sheer fear mongering, but instead we find the Pope a weak liar who is fast becoming irrelevant in the modern age.

    I feel its time we stopped dressing frail old men up in silly dresses, to honour supernatural idiot babble from an age of comparative mental retardation.

  • Truth Sayer

    So the Pope went along with the program? Not much of a stand-up-and do right, was he?

  • Truth Sayer

    You are blinded by propaganda. I will pray for the children that the priest molested or permitted to be molested. .

  • Truth Sayer

    That is not true. The mandate was for those youths whose elders were Party members, and for families to further demonstrate that the were of the Arian race. Doing so resulted in more privileges in school, outings, and camping trips sponsored by the Hitler Youth League. But it was not mandatory, as the Nazis Party wanted to perpetuate an aura of exclusiveness. Many children were outright rejected for unbelievable reasons, such as their head was not shaped correctly, too short, thought to be Gipsies, mentally ill, physically deformed, Jews, a history of a non-white or Russian family member, and many more reasons. Its certainly true that you provide a source, but your source is absolutely wrong. Later on when the war was going badly, it was then opened up for just about anybody. As they needed soldiers.

  • Truth Sayer

    You are right. With the exception of Nazi Part member’s children. See my post above. It appears that people trying to re-write history for the benefit of the Pope.