CONFESSIONAL: Pope Regrets Misspent Hitler Youth

BBC: Speaking at a youth rally in New York, he said his teenage years had been “marred by a sinister regime”. The Pope was a Hitler Youth member as a teen, usual for young Germans at the time, and was conscripted by the German army near the end of World War II. As a teenager, the pope was forced to join the Hitler Youth and he was conscripted into the German army towards the end of World War II, serving briefly in an anti-aircraft corps. He deserted the German army towards the end of the war and was briefly held as a prisoner of war by the Allies in 1945. After his release he studied theology and became a priest. The Pope told the crowd his own years as a teenager had been “marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers”. “Its influence grew, infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion, before it was fully recognised for the monster it was,” he said. “It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good.” MORE

PriestSexAbuseParishPredators_ph_2.jpgRELATED: Although discussion has raged since this afternoon regarding Benedict XVI and his past Nazi affiliations, I find his present to be slightly more worrisome. As Tim Boucher points out in this blog entry: Ratzinger is also the author of a May 2001 letter to bishops stating that the “Crimine solicitationies” law (regarding strict secrecy in sex abuse cases) is still in effect. The law to which Ratzinger’s letter referred was issued by Pope John XXIII 40 years ago (a link to the PDF of the document can be found in Boucher’s entry). The law itself is chilling, as it describes a mandatory condition of secrecy for both the perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The 69-page Latin document bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII was sent to every bishop in the world. The instructions outline a policy of ’strictest’ secrecy in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and threatens those who speak out with excommunication. They also call for the victim to take an oath of secrecy at the time of making a complaint to Church officials. It states that the instructions are to `be diligently stored in the secret archives of the Curia [Vatican] as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries.’ MORE

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