Joseph Ratzinger became Pope in 2005, following Jean-Paul II, after one of the Vatican’s briefest decision-making conclaves in history – about 24 hours. Ratzinger had been John-Paul’s right-hand man.
The German cardinal, reputedly austere, now took on the mantle of promoting the Catholic faith throughout the world at age 78. His detractors nicknamed him the Panzer, likening him to a Second World War tank.
His pontificate was not to be without controversy.
Eighteen months into it, Benedict XVI, as he was now called, unleashed the first storm. He was giving a speech in Regensburg when he attributed more reason to Christian thought than to Islam. He was also interpreted to have said that Islam was intrinsically linked to violence.
Around the planet Muslims protested but Benedict said he had been misunderstood. The atmosphere was calmer when he visited Istanbul three months later and, at the side of an Imam, faced Mecca.
He devoted energy to patching up interfaith relations. He needed to do that with the Anglicans after suggesting that those who did not agree with having women as priests, or in marriage for homosexuals, would be welcome in his church.
Benedict’s beatification of Pope Pius XII aroused anger among some Jews, who said the wartime Pope had not done enough to protect Jews from Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. Benedict defended Pius. His own past was repeatedly scrutinised. When Joseph Ratzinger was a boy, membership in the Hitler Youth movement was mandatory. He enrolled but was let out to study for the priesthood. At 16 he was drafted into the army, and worked in an anti-aircraft brigade, but deserted shortly before the German surrender.
When, in January 2009, the Pope reinstated Richard Williamson and several other traditionalist bishops, his judgement was sorely questioned. He aimed to heal a schism within the church, as Benedict’s predecessor had excommunicated Williamson. Following the reinstatement, the British bishop, in an interview on Swedish television, denied the Holocaust.
“I believe there were no gas chambers, yes. Between 200,000 and 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.”
Amid an international uproar, the Vatican said it had not been the Pope’s intention to appear to condone a Holocaust-denier, and Rome said an apology by the bishop did not restore Williamson fully in the church.
Benedict’s papacy was also riven by the scandal of paedophile abuses by Catholic priests, and how they were dealt with. Europe and the United States seathed with revelations that the Vatican protected the abusers. It surfaced that the Pope himself, while archbishop of Munich, had allowed an admitted molester to continue church work with children. Benedict apologised to the victims, and announced new sanctions.
There were other pontifical controversies as well. On a visit to Angola, he said that wealth should be better distributed, finance be more moral and he denounced violence, but all those messages faded into the background when he said the HIV problem was made worse by the distribution of condoms, making that statement on a continent plagued with the spread of AIDS.
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1Afghanistan: Fifty dead after suicide attack during volleyball match
- 2Turkish President sparks row by saying women are not equal to men
- 3Deadly floods in southern Morocco
- 4Femen lay bare their naked opposition to papal visit
- 5Violence erupts after policeman avoids charges over black teenager’s death
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Sweden becomes first EU country to recognise the Palestinian State | euronews, world news
- 3Italy swamped by flash floods | euronews, world news
- 4Back to School for Romania’s new First Lady | euronews, world news
- 5What will you ask US Senator John McCain? | euronews, world news
- 6Turkish president Erdogan unveils his new palace of a thousand rooms | euronews, world news
- 7India PM Modi appoints Yoga minister | euronews, world news
- 8Vladimir Putin most powerful man in the world – Forbes | euronews, world news
- 9[Live] Rosetta’s Philae lands on comet 67P and enters the history books | euronews, world news
- 10European e-revolution people rise up | euronews, world news
- 11International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 12Where is the best place in Europe for women? | euronews, world news
- 13Irony as organised crime prosecutor arrested for corruption in Romania | euronews, world news
- 14Obama’s ‘risky’ immigration gamble | euronews, world news
- 15Nadia Comaneci: gymnast of perfection and defector | euronews, the global conversation
- 16Putin plans to leave G20 talks early amid Ukraine pressure | euronews, world news
- 17Transcript of hanged Iranian woman’s final message released | euronews, world news
- 18Syria: Islamic extremists pledge to press ahead with battle for Kobani | euronews, world news
- 19Edgars Rinkevics: “I am gay. Good luck all of you.” | euronews, world news
- 20Anti-immigration protests in Rome | euronews, world news
Wires > News
- 17:19 CET Analysis – Brazil’s new economy chief will need space from Rousseff
- 17:16 CET India reports bird flu virus in Kerala state – OIE
- 17:09 CET Kazakhstan on brink of WTO membership deal, Afghanistan in line
- 17:07 CET Sierra Leone Ebola burial workers dump bodies in pay protest
- 16:53 CET Peru crackdown on illegal gold leads to new smuggling routes
- 16:45 CET Tunisian secularist wins first presidential round, heads for…
- 16:44 CET UAE jails man for belonging to ‘secret organisation’ – agency
- 16:40 CET Insight – Merkel hits diplomatic dead-end with Putin