On her Current TV show Say Anything on Tuesday night, Joy Behar brought on two political consultants to discuss the Pope’s resignation. Behar insisted that the Roman Catholic church made a terrible, mystifying mistake by selecting a pope who “was in the Hitler Youth.”
Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman implied that the membership wasn’t entirely voluntary, but Behar wasn’t budging that his compulsory membership should have completely disqualified him from the papacy. (Rich Noyes video and transcript below.)
JOY BEHAR: It's such an interesting thing -- of the how many million? -- 50 million Catholics in the world, they find one who is in the Hitler Youth. I never understood that. Where did that come from, with this Pope?
As usual, Behar is mangling facts. The number of Catholics in the world is over 1 billion, not just 50 million. Zimmerman tried to straighten her out about Hitler: '
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: Look, in defense of this Pope, the idea -- so many children joined Hitler Youth, not knowing what they were joining. To them, it was just -- you know, maybe some did it for protection. I think to make that an issue in this man's career, which is quite a distinguished career, I think is really not fair.
BEHAR: Oh, I don't know.
ZIMMERMAN: I agree with you that Pope John XXIII truly was -- probably one of my two favorite Popes, because he really-
BEHAR: Who was the other one?
ZIMMERMAN: Pope John Paul II. I mean, he really changed the world. And in this discussion about the Pope, Pope Benedict, resigning, it's important to remember how important the political, the religious leadership of the Vatican is, and how it can change the world for the better.
BEHAR: I'm not putting him down. I agree with that -- there were plenty of kids who had to go into the Hitler Youth, or else probably go to jail. But of all the people, all the people they could have found, they found one that was in the Hitler Youth. Why? There are millions and millions of Catholics -- plenty of cardinals could have filled the post. Why him? I'm just curious?
Bill Donohue at the Catholic League busted on several media outlets around the world that have sloppily insisted young Joseph Ratzinger "joined" or was a "member" of the Hitler Youth, like he did it voluntarily.
For example, see Washington Post reporter Jason Horowitz in Tuesday's paper: “History may barely remember a pope who did not overcome a stigma as a member of the Hitler Youth, the hapless leader who came after John Paul II and possibly before the church's first New World pontiff.”
The New York Times published playwright John Patrick Shanley, who began: “Pope Benedict XVI quit. Good. He was utterly bereft of charm, tone-deaf and a protector of priests who abused children. He'd been a member of the Hitler Youth. In addition to this woeful résumé, he had no use for women.”