"Frequently Asked Questions"

Occasionally the Pope Benedict XVI Fan Club receives questions about the Holy Father and this website. These are answers to some of the prevalent inquiries.

  • This website was originally developed and released around the same time Dominus Iesus was released in August 2000. The Cardinal has often received criticism by critics for taking a stand for the truth of the Catholic faith and this was a way to show public appreciation. It has since acquired something of a popular reputation for being the online archive of resources by and about Cardinal Ratzinger.

    This is an UNofficial fanclub, and an informal one at that. Sorry to disappoint, but we do not have any secret handshakes, membership cards, or chapter meetings.

    The author does not have any manner of formal connection with Cardinal Ratzinger; nor does he possess personal knowledge of the Cardinal -- now Holy Father's -- daily agenda, nor means to relay personal comments to him directly, etc., etc., etc. If you want to register your concerns about the quality of teaching by your priest, catechism instructor or professor, take it up with the bishop.

  • Consider yourself already a member by virtue of your appreciation for our Holy Father! -- This is an UNofficial fanclub, and an informal one at that. Sorry to disappoint, but we do not have any secret handshakes, membership cards, or chapter meetings. However, we do have an online discussion forum and a mailing list which is host to the occasional discussion of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and various other topics.

    To subscribe to the Ratzinger Fan Club Mailing List, click HERE.

    Registration for the discussion forum requires a (free) EzBoard user account; once you have an account, you can register here.

  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose mission is to "to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world" (John Paul II). The CDF was originally called the Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition as its duty was to defend the Church from heresy. It is the oldest of the Curia's nine congregations.

    In 1981, Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed Prefect of the Congregation by Pope John Paul II, and "put the smackdown on heresy" until his election in 2005 as the new Pope of the Catholic Church.

    Biographical Details about Cardinal Ratzinger.

  • For snail mail, you can write to our dear Holy Father at the following address:

    His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
    Vatican City State, 00120

    You can email him at benedictxvi@vatican.va, but good luck on getting a response. =)

  • Benedict loves Mozart and Bach. Of Mozart, Pope Benedict XVI said, "His music is by no means just entertainment. It contains the whole tragedy of human existence." Pope Benedict XVI said that Mozart "thoroughly penetrated" his soul in his growing-up years in the 1920s and 1930s in rural Bavaria, near Salzburg, Austria, Mozart's birthplace.

    Apparently he has little love for Bob Dylan -- when the artist was invited to a gathering of 300,000 young Catholic pilgrims at the World Eucharistic Congress in Bologna in 1997, then-Cardinal Ratzinger recalled:

    "The Pope appeared tired, exhausted. At that very moment the stars arrived, Bob Dylan and others whose names I do not remember. They had a completely different message from the one which the Pope had. . . . "There was reason to be sceptical - I was, and in some ways I still am - over whether it was really right to allow this type of 'prophet' to appear."

    Ratzinger's most detailed views on rock music can be located in his address to the International Church Music Congress in Rome in November 1985, in which he concluded:

    In many forms of religion, music is associated with frenzy and ecstasy. The free expansion of human existence, toward which man’s own hunger for the Infinite is directed, is supposed to be achieved through sacred delirium induced by frenzied instrumental rhythms. Such music lowers the barriers of individuality and personality, and in it man liberates himself from the burden of consciousness. Music becomes ecstasy, liberation from the ego, amalgamation with the universe. Today we experience the secularized variation of this type in rock and pop music, whose festivals are an anti-cult with the same tendency: desire for destruction, repealing the limitations of the everyday, and the illusion of salvation in liberation from the ego, in the wild ecstasy of a tumultuous crowd. These are measures which involve a form of release related to that achieved through drugs. It is the complete antithesis of Christian faith in the Redemption.

    In a way which we could not imagine thirty years ago, music has become the decisive vehicle of a counter-religion and thus calls for a parting of the ways. Since rock music seeks release through liberation from the personality and its responsibility, it can be on the one hand precisely classified among the anarchic ideas of freedom which today predominate more openly in the West than in the East. But that is precisely why rock music is so completely antithetical to the Christian concept of redemption and freedom, indeed its exact opposite. Hence, music of this type must be excluded from the Church on principle, and not merely for aesthetic reasons, or because of restorative crankiness or historical inflexibility.

    See also:

  • No. The Cardinal's actual title was 'Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith' -- which was formerly known as "Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition." Pope St. Pius X in 1908 changed the name to the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. It received its current name in 1965 with Pope Paul VI.

    So, while it may carry out the functional duties of the Inquisition, it is no longer known as such -- nor does it burn people at the stake. We just call him 'The Grand Inquisitor' because in the fevered minds of some progressive Catholics, the good Cardinal assumed a menacing status of Dostoyevskian proportions.

  • Good grief. No, Virginia, Cardinal Ratzinger was not a Nazi.

    The Ratzinger Fan Club normally doesn't indulge in the muck and mire of such rumors, but you'd be suprised how many people write inquiring about this malicious rumor.

    The story that Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth is true. It's a biographical fact that seems to have circulated on many a mailing list, and seems to surface at precisely opportune times when the Prefect finds himself in the media's spotlight. From the way it has been presented, one might assume this is one of those skeletons the Cardinal keeps tucked away in his closet (next to his executioner's axe and the token heads of Hans Kung, Matthew Fox, Leonardo Boff & Charles Curran).

    The truth is that as Ratzinger mentions himself in Milestones: Memoirs: 1927 - 1977, he and his brother George were both enrolled in the Hitler Youth (at a time when membership was compulsory), and discusses family life under the Third Reich in chapters 2-4 of his autobiography.

    Likewise, John Allen Jr., journalist for the National Catholic Reporter and author of 2002's biography of the Cardinal The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith, -- supplies the historical details sorely lacking in one of his many articles on the Cardinal ("The Vatican's Enforcer", National Catholic Reporter, April 16, 1999):

    As a seminarian, he was briefly enrolled in the Hitler Youth in the early 1940s, though he was never a member of the Nazi party. In 1943 he was conscripted into an antiaircraft unit guarding a BMW plant outside Munich. Later Ratzinger was sent to Austria's border with Hungary to erect tank traps. After being shipped back to Bavaria, he deserted. When the war ended, he was an American prisoner of war.

    Under Hitler, Ratzinger says he watched the Nazis twist and distort the truth. Their lies about Jews, about genetics, were more than academic exercises. People died by the millions because of them. The church's service to society, Ratzinger concluded, is to stand for absolute truths that function as boundary markers: Move about within these limits, but outside them lies disaster.

    Later reflection on the Nazi experience also left Ratzinger with a conviction that theology must either bind itself to the church, with its creed and teaching authority, or it becomes the plaything of outside forces -- the state in a totalitarian system or secular culture in Western liberal democracies. In a widely noted 1986 lecture in Toronto, Ratzinger put it this way: "A church without theology impoverishes and blinds, while a churchless theology melts away into caprice."

    See also:

    For more details of the Cardinal's life, click here.

  • Pope Benedict XVI may have said something regarding Harry Potter . . . back in 2003, and not officially (as in his capacity of Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) but in a personal letter to a German author who had submitted her book (condemning J.K. Rowling's fantasy series) to the Cardinal for his review. The sum total of the Cardinal's reply on the matter, dated March 7, 2003:

    "It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly."

    HogwartsProfessor.com provides a timeline and probably the most extensive investigation into the correspondence between Ms. Kuby and the Cardinal. Suffice to say the jury's out to lunch as to whether the Cardinal has actually read a Harry Potter book himself, much less the book in question by Ms. Kuby.

    For a compilation of reactions by Catholics and otherwise, see: Pope Benedict and Harry Potter Against The Grain July 14, 2005.

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