I'm strictly on the sidelines with this issue. I was once an altar boy and the priests I knew were honorable, nice people. Others I knew at my Catholic church were generally good and decent, too. I've got no personal axe to grind. I guess, like many, I came to doubt Christian myths in the comical, adolescent perspective of George Carlin's question: "Hey faddah– if God is all powerful, can He make a rock so big that He Himself can’t lift it?” Today, as a scientifically oriented adult, I am content as a skeptic, but I do follow the goings-on in World religion and subscribe to the little prayer: "God, protect me from your followers." Throughout the World, followers of fundamentalist religion are a threat to freedom and life itself. In the face of radical Islam, American evangelism and other oppressive movements, it appears as though the Vatican has decided to go medieval, too, with the elevation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to Pope.
Much has been made of Ratzinger's membership in the Hitler Youth and his service with a German anti-aircraft unit. I do not think criticism of his youthful desire to survive is fair. By all accounts, he was an unenthusiastic member and he did reportedly risk his life deserting towards the end of the war. It is Ratzinger's explanation that he could not have avoided participation that falls short. A more honorable, candid response might might credit those who did resist, like the brave members of the "White Rose" (http://www.jlrweb.com/whiterose/articles_inspires.html
The real problem with Pope Benedict is that he represents the core inflexibility, arrogance and unresponsiveness or the Roman Catholic hierarchy. This is the system that recently allowed Cardinal Law, the disgraced protector and enabler of pedophile priests, vaunted status in the days following John Paul II's death. Not coincidentally, Ratzinger, too, has been accused of shielding a pedophile priest.
Ratzinger ruled the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (the Vatican office once known as the Holy Inquisition). From The Guardian
), the following represent some of his judgements:
1. "In Latin America, he disciplined the advocates of 'liberation theology' and cracked down on Asian priests who saw non-Christian religions as part of God's plan for humanity"
2. In the document "Dominus Jesus issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith..." Ratzinger's office "...described other Christian faiths and world religions as 'deficient or not quite real churches'. When the Lutherans complained, the future Benedict XVI dismissed their objections as 'absurd'. "
3. "...under his guidance, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a stream of hardline instructions and rebukes..." including "...denouncing homosexuality as intrinsically evil, to suggesting that parishes should limit the use of female altar servers and choristers. "
The Catholic Church actively battles against birth control, even in Africa, where AIDs is rampant and until recently, literally enslaved Irish women in Magdalene Laundries(http://www.netreach.net/~steed/magdalen.html
What governments or religions do not have sordid aspects to their pasts? In Catholic terms, what puts blacker moments behind is redemption. The election of Pope Benedict XVI reminds one that in the Catholic Church, ugly vestiges of the past remain.