Oh, that Pope Benedict XVI. He just can't seem to stay out of trouble. First, it was the sexual abuse cover-up, and now he's telling the British that their country's growing secularism is reminiscent of the godlessness of Nazi Germany. Funny how he keeps quiet when he ought to speak up, and he blathers on when he ought to shut up.
I know atheists like to claim that Hitler was Catholic, and Catholics like to claim that Hitler was atheist. It really doesn't matter though. Nazism is not part and parcel of either atheism or Catholicism. That's like saying Elisabeth Moss and Tom Cruise are part of the Manson Family because they're Scientologists and so was Charles Manson at one point. Thoroughly irrelevant and illogical.
Let's stick to what the Pope said, shall we?
"Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.
"As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny."
Catholic Online summarized it perfectly: "Benedict likened the rise of British atheism and secularism to the rise of the Nazi Party in his native Germany."
If the Catholics themselves are admitting to the Pope's allusion, I'm not sure how else the Vatican (or my commenters) can spin it. Pope Benedict is warning the British that they're on the path to perpetrating another holocaust. It's no wonder British citizens are offended, atheist or not.
Of course, it didn't help that the Pope's comments came on the heels of Cardinal Kasper's derisiveness toward the British. He referred to the UK's multi-culturalism as comparable to being in a "third world country" and "accused the UK of discriminating against Christians." The cardinal had been planning to accompany the Pope on his trip to Britain, but withdrew after the backlash following these comments, ostensibly for "health reasons."
At this point I have to wonder, if the Pope is divinely ordained, just exactly what God's plan for the Catholic church must be. Self-destruction?
Photo via BBC News