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Post Benedict XVI's WWII Service; on Salvation
Created by John Eipper on 01/03/23 5:22 AM

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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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