Though professor Mark Lance refers to his chiding of Pope Benedict (“Pope Must Atone for the Sins of His Past,” The Hoya, April 11, 2008, A3) as a “challenge,” his column reveals both the latent hostility toward the Catholic Church so common among self-styled academics as well as their propensity to advance such personal bias at the expense of the truth. Lance claims that the young Joseph Ratzinger “accepted membership” into the Hitler Youth and materially collaborated in the Holocaust (whose victims included, let it be noted, some four million Catholics, including Ratzinger’s own cousin).

The truth is quite different. The young Ratzinger was forced, at age 14, like all young Germans, into joining the Hitler Youth. Had he refused to join, he could have been sent to a concentration camp. Ratzinger did not, however, attend meetings. Ratzinger’s father actively opposed the Nazis, and the resulting persecution foisted upon the family forced them to move multiple times. Ratzinger also deserted the German army, and in the process of his escape, he encountered Nazi soldiers who were accustomed to murder soldiers without their uniforms. Hence Lance’s description is precisely the contrary of what the Holy Father actually did: at the risk of his life, Ratzinger deserted the same army that participated in the slaughter of Catholics, Jews and many others, thereby doing precisely the opposite of “compl[ying]” with evil. The source for some of the above, let it be noted, is The New York Times, whose desire to vindicate the Catholic pope from such charges probably ranks somewhere near that of Voltaire or Luther. Let it also be noted that Ratzinger made such acts of resistance, however unnoticed, at the ripe age of 18.

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ warned His faithful of the existence of such persecution as Lance’s: “Blessed are ye when they shall revile you.and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven” (Mt 5:11-12). To atone for his own misunderstandings, Professor Lance would do well to publicly retract his distorted history of the Holy Father. Historical misrepresentation in order to slander the reputation of another is not only unbecoming of a tenured professor at a Jesuit institution, but also severely hypocritical for one who has dedicated his life to pursuing truth.

ichael O’Halloran (COL ’08)

Alex Miller (COL ’08), Former Grand Knight

David Gregory (COL ’10), Grand Knight GU Knights of Columbus

April 16, 2008

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