Grace for the Pope

I don't think Pope Ratzinger is going to be my favorite person in the world, but going after him for something he did when he was 14 is really a bit much. Ratzinger's 78, if we can find some anti-semitism in, say, his last 20 years, a case can be made. If we could find him criticizing the Pope's decision to apologize for Catholic inaction during the Holocaust, a stink should be raised. But the guy was a 14-year old in Nazi Germany, I don't even hold it against him if he joined the Hitler youth voluntarily. Propaganda, peer pressure, and government coercion are powerful forces, particularly for a kid, and while I expect a certain level of moral leadership from God's earthly emissary, I don't expect it to have been on display before his balls dropped.

Thinking back to the election, what pissed me off most about the coverage of Kerry was the time spent unearthing aloofness and puck-hogging tendencies from his childhood. I can't stand that stuff. So, to me, it wasn't fair when they did it to Kerry, it wasn't fair when they did it to Bush, it wasn't fair when they did it to Clinton, and it's not fair to do it to Ratzinger. Kids are kids, and they do stupid things. When I was 17, I wanted Noam Chomsky (speaking of) to be president, which kinda shows how internally consistent my beliefs were considering the guy's a, if I remember correctly, syndo-anarchist. When I was 14 I was doing stunts inspired by MTV's show Jackass. The point is that I, like my friends, was easily led, and would often gravitate to the poles rather than the center. I like to think I've come a ways in the 6 years since then, and folks wouldn't hold my stupider self against my contemporary self, particularly not 60 years into the future. Ratzinger should get the same consideration.

Update: See, now this I fully endorse. Homophobia, authoritarian tendencies, apologist for pedophiles -- have at it. Just don't ding him for what he did while his voice was cracking.