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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Pope Joey’s rap sheet

Okay, I’m just giving you a heads-up because he’s arriving today. And as a lapsed member of “The One True Faith” (still its slogan), I want you to know the whole story, so you don’t let this little smiling piranha fool you. First of all, his stage name as pope, as you probably know, is Benedict XVI. Would that be after Benedict Arnold?

Well, the truth is Benedict né Joey Ratzinger grew up in Germany during WW II and was a Hitler Youth. So reports, among others, UNKNOWN NEWS. It was standard fare if you weren’t Jewish. And god help you if you were. Some say Joey resisted the Nazis, but it turns out it was his father who resisted. Resisting, I guess, would be like signing up for martyrdom. So at 14, he got the outfit, shirt, tie, shorts and swastika armband. He looked so cute.

At 16, Joey’s seminary class got the order to work in anti-aircraft batteries (not for flashlights), defending the BMW plant, the people who make one of America’s favorite high-end cars, including the Mini-Cooper (named after Gary Cooper to make it sound American?). Soon after that, Joey and his class defended an aircraft factory, Oberpfaffenhofen, where German jet fighters were turned out.

Joey moved up the ranks, serving in the Germany army. He was drafted in December ’44, stationed near Traunstein, while my dearly departed Uncle Vincent Mazza was sloshing in the horror of the Battle of the Bulge. Joey helped dig anti-tank trenches on the Austrian-Hungarian border. Ah, but at last Joey deserted in the spring 1945, a few months from the end of the war. And my uncle came home with a thousand-yard stare.

Since WW II

As the New Internationalist reports, Ratzinger completed a doctorate on St. Augustine in 1953, and worked as a professor of “systematic theology,” that is, before ascending to Archbishop of Munich in 1977. From there, John Paul II invited Joey boy to Rome, where he was home free, taking up residence in 1981.

Once relocated, he made his mark post-haste with his old-fashioned dogmatism and conservative values. He was upset by what he saw as destructive, liberalizing influences turned loose at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), hey, it was the '60s. Nevertheless, these “wild excesses” included introducing a none-Latin Mass, which Joey saw as a “tragic breach of tradition.”

What about those 6 million Jews, Gypsies, Catholics and dissidents, Joe? What was that a breach of -- humanity, decency, Christ’s teachings?

Of course, he didn’t like all this talk about gay rights and women’s rights. Let’s get our priorities straight. In ’86, Ratzinger issued forth a letter to Catholic Bishops that homosexuality was a “tendency” towards an “intrinsic moral evil.” In 1992, he stretched it out rejecting the idea of human rights for gays. He stressed their civil liberties could be “legitimately limited.”

He warned that “neither church nor society should be surprised” if “irrational and violent reactions increase” when those pesky gays demand civil rights. Yeah, go out and kick some gay ass if you feel like it. In case that wasn’t clear enough, Joey set to work to weed out “gay-sensitive clergy,” which I would imagine left him quite a mound of resumes.

In fact, the sex-abuse scandals that have racked and will continue to rack the church, thanks to its prescription of priestly celibacy, are now running in the millions of dollars in legal fees and victims' settlements. In fact, he has ordered a crackdown on homosexuality in seminaries, even forced the retirement of the head of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative order of priest, after a prolonged sex investigation.

Yet, as reported in UNKNOWNNEWS, Benedict XVI, A Pope to be ashamed of, “In 2001, as the decades-long pattern of priests' abuse first started to be reported, he wrote a letter to bishops reminding them that church policy since 1962 mandated that the church itself would investigate, bypassing worldly police authorities, and required victims of priestly abuse to take an oath of secrecy. In effect, Ratzinger ordered a cover-up.”

Yet for a man who believes gays, in essence, have no human rights, he will be speaking at the UN on Friday, on the importance of human rights; and if he takes his Viagra, he will urge the world not to only use the military in solving problems of security. Oh boy. Well, they’ve got paramilitaries, Joey. Ever heard of Blackwater? -- they do the rest.

Speaking of the UN

Speaking in particular of Islam, UNKNOWNNEWS reports Joey in the past “argued that Turkey should not be allowed to join the European Union. Why? Because it has too many Muslims, which would ‘dilute the Christian nature’ of Europe. Are those the words of a man of God? It sounds more like something Archie Bunker said in an old episode of All In the Family.

Regarding Israel, Joe was known to say, “"We wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ." I’m sure the Jewish people will get a huge kick out of that.

Actually, until Joe bagged the pope’s job he was head of what was “commonly called the Holy Office; it went by a different, more familiar name until 1965: The Office of the Inquisition. Yes, seriously. And the rap sheet goes on . . .

Speaking of hot topics

Joe reminded women that given his papal principle of “infallibility,” not unlike George Bush’s “I am the Decider” principle, declared the ordination of women impossible. After all, John Paul II said it was and so it goes. Also, using the word “priest” in the Anglican Church was a no-no. In fact, Leo XIII in 1896 said it was not allowed. And if Leo said it, it had to be so.

As to AIDS, made in the USA at the CIA’s bio-labs in Fort Detrick, Maryland, the epidemic that swept America and the world . . . yes, as to AIDS, as more leading scientific experts prescribe the use of condoms, Joey baby echoes the long-sung church chant against their use.

I do hope when he’s in New York, he stops by Beth Israel Hospital’s quarantine ward for infectious diseases on Second Avenue and East 15th Street, and tells that to the living dead who have full-blown AIDS, or to thousands of teenagers in New York alone who have contracted HIV because they lacked smarts, know-how to use and/or access to contraceptives.

What’s more, like Bush, Joey thinks the church should be involved in politics. “The church must make claims and demands on public law,” he wrote in 1988, “and cannot simply retreat into the private sphere.” God forbid. So Pope Joe will be rapping about this and this and that this coming week. Look for him to go at it on abortion, which he’s more than against, like birth control. But Joey wants the church’s positions chiseled in the stone of law, and to be enforced as same.

After all, what is the Catholic Church famous for if not its long history of torture and inquisition? And you old Constitution-lovers, especially of separation of church and state, know Joey’s here to help swing the election his way on some key points.

Parenthetically, he has also muzzled “liberation” theologians, including Brazil’s Leonardo Boff. He replaced the deceased Archibsho of Recife Dom Helder Camara with Monsignor Jose Cardosa, a conservative right-winger. He warned the ex-Bishop of Chiapas in Mexico, Samuel Ruiz, to preach the Gospel “in its integrity without Marxist interpretations.”

So Joey’s got a lock on a lot of things. He’s Numero Uno of the One True Faith. And even though Vatican PR guys are trying to spin a softer image of him, underneath is Kid Joey Ratzinger, Hitler Youth, Nazi soldier. PS: don’t forget how our lovely Vatican spun all those old Nazi war criminals down the Vatican ratlines to Argentina and other places south, where they could continue to do damage.

But, after all’s said and done, Joey still doesn’t like liberals in the church. As Cardinal John P. Foley, an American who served for years as the Vatican’s chief of communications, said, echoing Benedict’s sentiments, “I like the line that good morals, like good art, begin by drawing a line.” This as reported in the New York Times, Hard-liner With Soft Touch Reaches Out to US Flock. Art can also start with a smear of color, pal, loose, undefined, and open to interpretation like life itself.

The One True Faith still haunts

In closing, let’s go back to my beginning. The Times says, “Difficult for many Americans is his regular insistence on the truth of Catholicism and that it is the only ‘true’ church — claims that critics, and even some supporters, say are essential to believe but not necessarily to say too often if good relations with other Christians and faiths are also important.

“'It smacks of the Old Church triumphalism that preceded Vatican II,' said Robert Mickens, a Vatican expert for the liberal English Catholic magazine The Tablet. The pope implies, Mr. Mickens said: 'We’ve got the truth. We don’t need to have dialogue with people. We need to proclaim our truth.'" And perhaps that is the most off-putting fact of the “One True Faith,” that fundamentalist twist.

Yet the Times says, “Conservative Catholics, those who are clearly the most energized by Benedict’s visit, say that such objective belief is crucial and does not rule out dialogue: On this trip, which will include a visit to the White House and to ground zero in Manhattan, he [the Pope] will meet with other Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Muslims — a group he has had specific troubles with since he quoted two years ago a medieval Byzantine emperor who called aspects of Islam ‘evil and inhuman.’” Perhaps that’s even scarier.

In fact, I’d give my old rosary beads and missile to be there for that one, even as the souls of 9/11 dead rise up to look on, white, yellow, black, tan, of all faiths, ethnicities and sexual persuasion. Let them after all judge like eternity itself where the man in the white robe is really at. And you, too. End of rap sheet. More, I’m sure, to come.

Jerry Mazza
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