by Steven Ertelt
April 11, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — An author writing a new biography on Pope Benedict XVI says genocide during the Nazi regime in World War II played a key role in shaping the pro-life views of the Catholic leader. Author Brennan Pursell relates the story in his upcoming book Benedict of Bavaria.
Pursell learned of the tragic story while compiling material for the book.
He found out that, as a 14-year-old boy, Joseph Ratzinger had a cousin born with Down Syndrome who was just a couple years younger.
In 1941, German "therapists" arrived at the boy’s home and took him away — possibly telling his parents of the new governmental regulations against mentally disabled children living at home.
Despite pleas from the boy’s family, German officials took him away and he very likely became a victim of the genocide that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives during the war.
"This was Joseph Ratzinger’s first experience of a murderous philosophy that asserts that some people are disposable," Pursell explains.
Because of the terrible incident, Pope Benedicts presents a consistently pro-life worldview that opposes abortion as well as euthanasia and assisted suicide.
"Many people are expecting Pope Benedict XVI to speak out in defense of human life and against abortion during his visit to the United States next week," Pursell said in a statement LifeNews.com received.
"What few people realize, however, is that the pope knows firsthand what happens when a society refuses to defend the most defenseless of its citizens," he added.
"He will present the Catholic teaching as a positive," Pursell says. "But at the same time he will be unapologetic about it."
While most biographies focus on a contemporary Western view of the Pope, Pursell said he purposefully compiled the insight of friends and family who could share intriguing background stories such as this.