New Pope called a “disaster for the world”
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Criticism of the new Pope has begun to surface because of his conservative views, with one commentator calling him a “disaster for the world and for the Jews.”
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of liberal Jewish Tikkun Magazine, San Francisco, writes that since the days in which he served in the Nazi army in Germany, to his role as the leader of the forces that purged the most creative leaders of the Catholic Church, Joseph Ratzinger has distinguished himself as a man who “disrespects other religions and sides with the most repressive elements in the Catholic world.”
According to Lerner, “Jews have a powerful stake and commitment in ending global poverty and oppression. We fully well understand that in a world filled with pain and cruelty, the resulting anger is often channelled in racist, sexist and homophobic directions … So it was with great distress that we watched as Cardinal Ratzinger led the Vatican in the past 25 years on a path that opposed providing birth control information to the poor of the world, thereby ensuring that AIDS would spread and kill millions in Africa. And we watched with even greater distress as this Cardinal supported efforts to involve the Church in distancing itself from political candidates or leaders who did not agree with the Church’s teachings on abortion and gay rights, prioritising these issues over whether that candidate agreed with the Church on issues of peace and social justice. As a result, Cardinal Ratzinger has led the Church away from its natural alliance with Jews in fighting for peace and social justice and toward a stance which in effect allies the Church with the most reactionary politicians whose policies are militaristic and offer a preferential option for the rich.”
Lerner writes that it was under Ratzinger’s tutelage that the Vatican began to elevate the “infamous” Pope Pius XII to the status of a saint, instead of telling all Catholics that they would be prevented from receiving communion for collaborating or cooperating in any way with Nazi rule, or for failing to hide and protect Jews who were marked for extermination In his view, Ratzinger has sought to “whitewash this disgraceful moment in Church history. Many Jews are outraged at a Church that denies communion to those who have remarried or those who oppose making abortion illegal but that did not similarly deny communion to those who participate in crimes against humanity.” According to him, Ratzinger publicly praised the fascist movement in the Church known as Opes Dei and supported canonisation of Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, an open fascist who served in the government of Spain’s dictator Franco, and who publicly praised Hitler.
In 1997, Ratzinger called Buddhism an “autoerotic spirituality” that offers “transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations.” Hinduism, he said, offers “false hope,” in that it guarantees “purification” based on a “morally cruel” concept of reincarnation resembling “a continuous circle of hell.” At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church’s main enemy. Lerner says, “Ratzinger is being falsely described as a conservative, when in fact he, despite his publicly genteel manner, is a raging reactionary. Unlike many American conservatives who oppose gay sexual practices but not their legal rights, Ratzinger in 1992 argued against human rights for gays, stressing that their civil liberties could be ‘legitimately limited.’”