Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Extreme Homophobe Ratzinger Elected New Pope

by Malcolm Thornberry 365Gay.com European Bureau Chief

Posted: April 19, 2005 12:57 pm ET
Updated: 1:15 pm ET, 2:27 pm ET, 4:32 pm ET

(Vatican City) Joseph Ratzinger one of the most conservative Cardinals in the Catholic Church was elected Pope on Tuesday.

Ratzinger was John Paul's deputy for theology as head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation was the same organization responsible for the Spanish Inquisition.

The election of the 78-year old Ratzinger is seen as a desire by cardinals to have a caretaker pope.

Cardinals had faced a choice over whether to seek an older, skilled administrator to serve in this role while the church absorbs John Paul's legacy, or a younger dynamic pastor and communicator - perhaps from Latin America or elsewhere in the developing world where the church is growing.

Cardinal Ratzinger was the author of the a 2003 Vatican directive to priests around the world calling for a proactive stand to stop governments from legalizing same-sex marriage and for a repeal of those those already on the books that give rights, including adoption, to gay couples. (story)

The 12 page document called on Catholic bishops and lawmakers to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions.

Ratzinger opposes contraception and the use of condoms to combat HIV/AIDS. He advocates a diminished role for women in the Church and has called for mandatory celibacy for priests.

A nun who was ordered by Ratzinger to stop ministering to gays and lesbians called his election to pope "devastating" for those who believe the Catholic Church needs to be more tolerant on social issues such as homosexuality.

Sister Jeannine Gramick said the choice of Ratzinger, who as the Vatican's guardian of doctrine silenced her and Father Robert Nugent in a 1999 order, will likely prevent the church from "moving into the 21st century and out of the Middle Ages."

"It does not bode well for people who are concerned for lesbian and gay people in the church," she said.

Gramick was a co-founder of New Ways Ministry in 1977 to provide educational programs for gay and lesbian Catholics nationwide.

She is no longer associated with the group, but its executive director, Francis DeBernardo, said Ratzinger "is the lightening rod for anger at the church by gay and lesbian people."

"Today, the princes of the Roman Catholic Church elected as Pope a man whose record has been one of unrelenting, venomous hatred for gay people," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Matt Foreman.

"As a long-time Catholic from a staunchly Catholic family, I know that the history of the church is full of shameful, centuries-long chapters involving vilification, persecution, and violence against others. Someday, the church will apologize to gay people as it has to others it has oppressed in the past. I very much doubt that this day will come during this Pope's reign. In fact, it seems inevitable that this Pope will cause even more pain and give his successors even more for which to seek atonement."

Chiming bells and white smoke from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel announced Ratzinger's election. Tens of thousands of people on St. Peter's Square erupted in cheers and applause.

Ratzinger will take the name Pope Benedict XVI.

Going into the conclave he was the favorite but the speed at which he was chosen took even Vatican Radio by surprise, and it is only the third time in a century that a pope had been chosen on the second day of a conclave.

Ratzinger was born in Marktl Am Inn, Germany but his father, a policeman, frequently moved the family.

In his memoirs, Ratzinger wrote that he was enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood.

An accomplished pianist who loves Mozart, Ratzinger is said to have enjoyed playing the piano as a seminarian.

Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper, a common task for teenage boys too young to be soldiers. A year later he was released, only to be sent to the Austrian-Hungarian border to construct tank barriers.

He deserted the Germany army in May 1945. When he arrived home, U.S. soldiers took him prisoner and held him in a POW camp for several weeks. Upon his release, he re-entered the seminary.

©365Gay.com 2005
with files from the Associated Press


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