East Germany spied on former Cardinal Ratzinger

From Deutsche Welle

The East German secret police spied on the man who would become Pope Benedict XVI for 15 years, targeting him as one of the Vatican’s fiercest opponents of communism, according to a report published Sunday.

From April 1974 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the feared Ministry for State Security kept close tabs on the then theology professor Joseph Ratzinger, according to documents from the so-called Stasi archives printed Sunday in the weekly Bild am Sonntag.

“Ratzinger is seen at the Vatican as one of the staunchest opponents of communism,” a Stasi spy noted in his file after the late John Paul II named Ratzinger prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981. The report said the Stasi also attempted in vain to unearth damaging documents from Ratzinger’s involvement in the Hitler Youth under the Third Reich.

“Ratzinger is currently, after the pope and Secretary of State (Agostino) Casaroli, the most influential political and leading ideologue at the Vatican,” a Stasi spy wrote in the 1980s.

At least eight Stasi spies tracked Ratzinger over the years, although only two have been identified.

The former Cardinal Ratzinger had worked very closely with John Paul II. in formulating Church doctrine and policies as well as in day-to-day business, so it isn’t surprising at all that he came under the same scrutiny by communist spies as the former Pope.

Btw, their principals might have gone out of business, but I’d love to know who the as yet undiscovered spies are. If they had been citizens of East Germany I have no wish to see them punished, nor could they be legally punished for working for their country (even if it doesn’t exist anymore), but if they were West Germans they definitively should serve some time in jail.

2 thoughts on “East Germany spied on former Cardinal Ratzinger”

  1. It would be very interesting to know the identity of the spies, what positions they held, and what motivated them.

  2. Better to establish a public disclosure and hearings as in South Africa and clear the decks.

    So much of the political Left from the cold war has buried dirt it’d be enough if they merely were asked to come clean, as the fear of reprisals just causes old wounds to fester rather than heal. If the West Germans in positions of responsibility were asked to surrender only their reputations, rather than their freedom or ill gotten fortunes, it’d pave the way for the post-cold war generation of leaders and intellectuals to govern a truely united Germany, rather than one plagued by old resentments and fears.

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