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Post Benedict Had No Choice but to Join the Hitlerjugend
Created by John Eipper on 01/02/23 3:49 AM

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Benedict Had No Choice but to Join the Hitlerjugend (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 01/02/23 3:49 am)

In response to David Duggan's brutal appraisal of Benedict XVI (January 1st), what the hell is wrong to have served in the Hitlerjugend when all of Germany's youth were compulsorily enrolled? What is wrong at the age of 16 to build defenses against invading Soviet tanks? And what is wrong if he had to join the Army in the final period of the war?

Benedict had nothing to do with Nazism, but only with his country in danger. Glory to Benedict XVI (and to hell with the Arab numbers) for such actions.

On the contrary, I think that if he really did desert in the last month of the war as has been reported, that was the only wrong thing that he did. But his supposed desertion is probably a piece of politically correct fake news to save him from the defenders of the theory that all Germans at the time were evil.

When will people understand that the Fatherland should be always defended in war? The government good or bad is only provisional but the Fatherland is eternal. Throughout my life I have been against most of the Italian governments but I would have fought for Italy, and I will always give my respect to any soldier, enemy or friend, if he is personally fighting following the International Conventions on War, no matter if his commander-in-chief is a war criminal.

David's theological discussion takes us back to the European Wars of Religion of the 16th century. David seems to say that for eternal salvation, performing good deeds is not important, as the important thing is to have faith in God. By this reasoning, both Hitler and Stalin if they had faith (in secret?) are now in eternal glory.

JE comments:  I am not surprised that David Duggan's excoriation of Benedict would get some pushback.  Next up:  Francisco Wong-Díaz.

Comparative religion has a WAIS topic since our infancy.  It would be instructive to look at the concept of "salvation" in different faiths.  As I understand it, Judaism is the religion that puts the most emphasis on good deeds as the path to salvation.  Christianity, to different degrees according to the sect, prefers the notion of acceptance and belief--although righteousness never hurts.  The harshest theologies espouse predestination, where neither good deeds nor faith guarantee a ticket to heaven.

But I am no theologian.  I hope better-informed WAISers will join this conversation.

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  • Benedict XVI's WWII Service; on Salvation (Enrique Torner, USA 01/03/23 5:22 AM)
    I have to agree Eugenio Battaglia's disagreement with David Duggan's criticism of Benedict XVI regarding his service in the Hitlerjugend. As Francisco Wong-Díaz stated, Ratzinger was drafted by the Nazis, and there was nothing he could do about it.

    I have a long-time friend from Spain, the son of German parents who moved to Barcelona after WWII. His father was drafted by the Nazis when he was 19. He was put in charge of a battalion and sent in the direction of Moscow. Freezing cold and hunger ruined their mission right before they could enter the capital. My friend's father was the only one who survived in his whole battalion, and that was because he was evacuated due to injuries from a grenade in addition to a case of hepatitis.

    My friend told me that neither his father or his family were ever Nazis.  He was forced to serve, like everybody else, or so they thought. A certain sense of shame and guilt accompanied him the rest of his life: "We didn't know"; "I could have killed Hitler when I had him 5 meters away from me" were repeated comments of his to my friend (I'm translating passages from a letter that my friend sent me by email not long ago).

    On the topic of salvation brought up by Eugenio's post, I have to add a few comments. It is true that Protestants believe that salvation is by faith alone, and that Catholics believe salvation is by faith and good works. Catholics (and people of other faiths) have a hard time understanding salvation by faith alone. I did too. I was raised Catholic in Spain and converted to Protestantism later in life after I had moved to the US. Protestants' belief is that, at conversion (when you accept Christ by faith), your soul suffers a regeneration ("you are born again"). That transformation, as a Christian grows in sanctification, leads to good works naturally. By their "fruits" (good works), you will recognize they have been born again. If somebody supposedly accepted Christ, but falls in repeated, outrageous sin, Protestants question their initial conversion. This, of course, leads to discussions regarding Christians who have fallen away. Some Protestants (there are many denominations with different beliefs) believe that you can lose your salvation. I don't think that's biblical.

    In all the many years I have lived in the US, I have witnessed many more good deeds by Protestants (I really don't like this term, but I'm using it for the sake of clarity, especially for those not living in the US: I prefer the term Christian) than I ever did in Spain, where most people are Catholic. In Spain, people may be baptized Catholic, but most are far away from practicing their religion, other than going through the customary sacraments (First Communion, etc.) and engaging in the many Catholic festivities that pervade the streets of Spain. In contrast, my experience in this country is that Christians live out their faith way more than I saw in Spain. In fact, being in the receiving end of Christians love, joy, kindness, and generosity in this country was a main factor in my conversion.

    That was decisive for me, plus salvation not depending on whether I screw up or not, to put it plainly. It was liberating. Salvation by faith may be hard to understand, but, if believed, it offers a great deal of peace.

    JE comments:  I'd be wise to stay on the sidelines of these theological discussions, but I will pose a couple of questions.  First, for Enrique:  what is wrong with the "Catholic/Protestant" distinction?  "Catholic/Christian" creates a logical disjunction, with the implication that Catholics are not Christian.  I've heard this (and struggled with it) many times in Latin America, when someone tells me they are not Catholic, but Christian.  Also in Spanish, "Evangélico" is synonymous with Protestant, and juxtaposed against "Católico."  "Evangelical" in English means something slightly different.

    Second question (this one, for anybody):  Where does Weber's Protestant "work ethic" fit in the equation?  Capitalism and "good deeds" are not necessarily the same thing, but if work pleases God, then it is a path to salvation...right?

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