Benedict whose family is not known to have had nazi sympathies, like most german youth joined the Hitler Youth (membership was voluntary at first, but refusing to join the Hitler Youth could bring the unwelcome attention of the authorities to you, so joining the Hitler Jugend can not be held against Benedict. A few brave souls nevertheless did refuse to join).
Benedict visited Auschwitz and acknowleged Germany's special link with jews as the result of their past. This is unlike many germans nowadays who like ex SS member Gunther Grass prefer instead to whitewash their criminal history by way of attacking Israel. Israel defending itself from genocidal arab aggression is supposedly as bad as their nazi parents and grandparents.
Benedict never took this easy course of absolving himself of feelings of guilt towards the victims of nazism. Benedict instead of attacking jews asked as "a son of Germany" why God was silent whilst 1.5 million victims were put to death in Auschwitz. It's not known what his doctrinal answer to this is however? It is hard to escape the feeling that many catholics even nowadays will ascribe it to Jews having "killed Christ"
(in my own youth I was faced with this accusation a number of times, and each time had to raise my fists to ward off the blows as best I could. Of course that was none to easy as those who attack jews usually like to move in groups).
Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith previously known as the Inquisition. He was the arch enemy of latin american liberation theologist priests who identified with revolutionary peasant movements and the poor in general. They railed against the Roman Catholic Church being seen as identifying itself with human rights abusing dictatorships of generals.
Benedict was not a bad pope as far as Israel and jews are concerned. Despite being conservative he recognized "with great shame" that Christianity had been a violent religion in the past. But Benedict whilst recognizing the evils that emanated from the religion of islam (if the Koran was published nowadays for the first time, its author would be in breach of many countries' hate Speech laws for passages describing jews and christians) was overly indulgent of palestinian arabs involved in the steady ethnic cleansing of christians from territories that they hold in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. Like most christian clerics in the middle-east the pope in reaction to his remarks about islam took the path of appeasing muslim arabs, hoping they would temper their hatred of christians. The opposite is however the case. Just as in the 1930's with the nazis, appeasing arabs never bears pacific fruits.
The pope of course, in the wake of the extreme violence by followers of the 'religion of peace' had to later 'regret' having implicated islam in violence. The pope's conciliatory gesture was to travel to islamist and pray in the Blue Mosque with the grand mufti of Istanbul. Benedict would not have dared demand the prayer to peace be made in ex-church later taken over as a mosque, the byzantine Aya Sofia church. Turkey is now demanding its artifacts back from the west, why does the church not demand restitution of its magnificent church? Appeasement...........
Only when the West is unassailable militarily has the crusading muslim world acted peacably. Islam is a religion which aspires to a caliphate, an islamic empire. Unlike christianity, islam has still not lost its crusading and imperial tendency.
Attacks on christians whether in Gaza, Taibeh, Bet Jala or Bethlehem give the oft repeated lie to that idea, but still christians have not learned. And now it is happeing again in Syria. Christians are being murdered, are fleeing, and are being ethnically cleansed by jihadist fanatics. Appeasment and showing intolerance for Israel is deemed to be the best path to saving christian lives.
Yet Pope Benedict said to palestinian arabs in Bethlehem in 2009:
Ignoring the silly description of Judea and Samaria as the “ land of “ arab “forefathers” (most arabs immigrated to Mandatory Palestine to take advantage of job opportunities created by jews in the 1920's and 30's) palestinian arab terror and constantly repeated threats to destroy Israel were and are ignored. That palestinian arabs have not the slightest interest in living in peace with Israel is similar to arab regimes not having the slightest wish for christians to remain in their countries. From Libya to Syria christians are fleeing, and that's only the arab part of the muslim world. As for the jews they were already ethnically cleansed from arab countries already in the 1950's.
Pope Benedict has not gone out to antagonise the Jewish People. Every now and again he slipped up but it is hard to see these mistakes such as having been deliberately intended by him to upset jewish sensibilities.
Indeed, the Elder of Ziyon notes that with regard to the Judea-Samarian security fence/wall protecting Israel from arab suicide bombers and assorted terrorists, Benedict was careful not to criticize Israel even whilst not directly referring to the arab atrocities which forced the building of the wall.
“How earnestly we pray for an end to the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built."It is hard to ascribe good intentions to Benedict's advisers though as the ramifications of policies such as moving forwards on making Pope Pius XII, 'Hitler's Pope' a saint. The Pope signed the infamous Concordat with Hitler, excommunicated all communists whilst never excommunicating one single nazi, or german soldier.
The Vatican always likes to aver that PPXII saved many jews, yet despite doubts as to the veracity of this (many catholic priests, nun and laity did save jews, but there is no evidence that it was at the instigation of PPXII) the records of the time remain under lock and key. Only approved researchers are allowed near them. If there is nothing to hide, why the secrecy?
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger or "God's rottweiler" as he was known when dealing with reformers in his church was staunchly conservative, but this did not mean that he translated this into negativism towards jews or Israel. He showed no special love for the jewish people, but he showed no animus towards jews either, and for this we should be grateful. There has thankfully since the Holocaust been a string of popes who have understood the results of hate speech towards jews.
It is a pity that this understanding of where anti-semitism leads does not seem to have seeped down lower in the cathoic heirarchy, as a reading of my articles about the Latin Patriarchate in Israel will show.
Whilst allowing the reintroduction of the Latin mass Benedict was wrong not to insist on taking out its prayer for the conversion of the Jewish People. We thought that this 'replacement theology' ghost had been exorcised long ago in the 1950's. I might be wrong, but I would be surprised if Benedict personally intended a slight to the jews but wanted rather to impose his own conservative will inside the church, to help bring peace to different factions within the church demanding the reinstitution of the mass in latin. And of course to bring in the errant sheep such as the notorious SSPX back in the fold.
Accepting the anti-semitic and Holocaust denying Society of StPius X back into the church was less of a problem with jews than for catholics themselves. The problem of schism in the Catholic Church is ever present. Eventually the SPX threw out one of its own leaders, British bishop Richard Williamson ostensibly for his Holocaust denial, but most probably because like often the case when convinced nazis fall out, Williamson wanted to be 'fuhrer' in his organisation.
And of course the question is, when the holy smoke clears, will the next pope be a friend or....... not so much of a friend?
John Paul II's don't come along that frequently.
Exonerating Jews of the charge of deicide Christ's death, repudiating the concept of collective Jewish guilt that haunted Christian-Jewish relations for centuries.