April 20, 2005


ADL Welcomes Election of Cardinal Ratzinger as New Pope (ADL, April 19, 2005)

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the election of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope, Benedict XVI. Under his leadership in Germany and Rome, the Catholic Church made important strides in improving Catholic-Jewish relations and atoning for the sin of anti-Semitism. Cardinal Ratzinger has been a leader in this effort and has made important statements in the spirit of sensitivity and reconciliation with the Jewish people.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

We welcome the new Papacy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. From the Jewish perspective, the fact that he comes from Europe is important, because he brings with him an understanding and memory of the painful history of Europe and of the 20th Century experience of European Jewry.

Having lived through World War II, Cardinal Ratzinger has great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust. He has shown this sensitivity countless times, in meetings with Jewish leadership and in important statements condemning anti-Semitism and expressing profound sorrow for the Holocaust. We remember with great appreciation his Christmas reflections on December 29, 2000, when he memorably expressed remorse for the anti-Jewish attitudes that persisted through history, leading to "deplorable acts of violence" and the Holocaust. Cardinal Ratzinger said: "Even if the most recent, loathsome experience of the Shoah (Holocaust) was perpetrated in the name of an anti-Christian ideology, which tried to strike the Christian faith at its Abrahamic roots in the people of Israel, it cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians."

Though as a teenager he was a member of the Hitler Youth, all his life Cardinal Ratzinger has atoned for the fact. In our years of working on improving Catholic-Jewish ties, ADL has had opportunities to work with Cardinal Ratzinger. We look forward to continuing that relationship.

The Gentle Watchdog: Ratzinger is known as a steadfast enforcer, but his personality and his past belie stereotypes (Jeffrey Fleishman and Sebastian Rotella, April 20, 2005, LA Times)

Vibrant and strong in his beliefs, Ratzinger is also known as a quiet, almost shy man, with hard, blue eyes. Friends and critics alike describe him as an engaging man who can discuss topics ranging from classical music to the Gospels.

"Cardinal Ratzinger is known for his gentleness and timidity," said Mario Marazziti, a spokesman for Community of Sant' Egidio, a Catholic movement that works with the poor. "When people greeted him crossing St. Peter's [Square], he seemed almost stunned that people recognized him."

Father Caesar Atuire, who organizes pilgrimages to the Vatican, said: "Before you meet him, you hear he is … one of the watchdogs of faith. And then you meet a simple guy, with almost a simple smile on his face, as if he's scared to hurt anybody."

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2005 12:00 AM

The ADL may forgive the new pope, but the Page 1 editors at the London Sun apparently don't (and this is Rupert Murdoch's London tabloid paper, BTW).

Posted by: John at April 20, 2005 1:39 AM

I see that Prince Harry & Chelsea had a hot get away together. At first I thought they meant Chelsea Clinton.

Posted by: Dave W. at April 20, 2005 1:49 AM

Curious that the ADL didn't also think to mention that membership in the Hitler Youth was compulsory at the time, that a math teacher who saw Ratzinger's reluctance advised him to go to a Hitler Youth meeting just to get necessary documentation of having been there, and that Ratzinger deserted from the German army.

Posted by: Patrick O'Hannigan at April 20, 2005 2:05 AM

My mother-in-law is a Jewish refugee from Germany in the 1930s who generally hates Germans with a still red hot passion. She, unlike the ADL, said that since Hitler Youth membership was cumpulsory, there was nothing to forgive. I agree. The Pope has nothing to atone for on this issue. Going to a concentration camp over this would have been a bit much to ask of a 14 year old.

Posted by: Bob at April 20, 2005 10:10 AM

I agree with Bob's mother in law and Bob.

Posted by: Eugene S. at April 20, 2005 1:04 PM