This was published before Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope:
Journalists have been poking around Ratzinger’s teenage years during World War II, apparently searching for any pro-Nazi sentiment…
The German cardinal is a hero to doctrinal conservatives, while liberal camps are supposedly rooting for Martini, considered more open-minded.
The 78-year-old Bavarian prelate is the supposed favorite of cardinals leaning toward an elderly figure to lead the church for likely just a few years while churchmen try to absorb the legacy of the late pope’s 26 years at the helm.
A Sunday Times of London profile on Ratzinger, saying his doctrinal watchdog role has earned him uncomplimentary nicknames like “God’s rottweiler,” reported on his “brief membership” in the Hitler youth movement and service, in the final stretch of the war, in a German anti-aircraft unit.
In his memoirs, Ratzinger speaks openly of being enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He says he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood.
Two years later, he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper, a common fate for teenage boys too young to be soldiers. Enrolled as a soldier at 18, in the last months of the war, he barely finished basic training.
Ratzinger’s wartime past “may return to haunt him,” the British paper wrote on the eve of the conclave’s start.
Other accounts indicate that he is even more reactionary than Pope John Paul II. With polls showing huge numbers of American Catholics in disagreement with their church over issues like birth control, ordaining women to be priests and allowing priest to marry, the appointment of this leader with a hint of fascism in his past could be construed as a shot across the bow to the faithful in this country.
Isn’t this how schisms get started?