As a boy of fourteen, Joseph Ratzinger had a cousin who had been born with Down's Syndrome, only a bit younger than himself. In 1941, German state "therapists" came to the boy's house and probably informed the parents of the government regulation that prohibited mentally handicapped children from remaining in their parents' home. In spite of the family's pleas, the representatives of the Nazi state took the child away. The Ratzinger family never saw him again. Later the family learned that he had "died," most likely murdered, for being merely "undesirable," a blemish in the race, and a drain on the productivity of the nation. This was Joseph Ratzinger's first experience of a murderous philosophy that asserts that some people are disposable.
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. What few people realize, however, is that the pope knows first hand what happens when a society refuses to defend the most defenseless of its citizens.
Pope Benedict XV=Joseph Ratzinger, the cousin of a child with Down syndrome who was killed by the Nazi's simply for being born "different".
In the next few weeks, I intend to write about Hademar, the institution where children with disabilities were sent by the Nazis. I told a story about Hademar at a Teacher's conference once, and there wasnt a dry eye in the house. The story is sobering, painful, and real. It is comforting, in a way, to know that even the Pope knows just HOW real eugenics is.
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