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SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Wartime challenges helped prepare Benedict to be pope

The new pope, Benedict XVI, is the second consecutive one who lived under Nazi authority during World War II.

His predecessor, John Paul II, was part of the underground resistance in occupied Poland. Benedict lived in Adolf Hitler's Germany.

Benedict, then named Joseph Ratzinger, and his father and brother secretly monitored Allied forces' radio broadcasts in defiance of Hitler. That was because the father wanted his sons to know the truth, according to the pope's brother.

Later, the future pope did some things that were required of him. He joined the Hitler Youth. He was drafted into the army and served briefly before deserting.

He could have more openly defied the Hitler government, but he might not have survived. Citizens of nations at war often have no good choices. People familiar with him and his family believe they behaved honorably.

These experiences must have taught Benedict the value of independent thinking and courage — qualities that he will need as pope.

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