Ratzinger's Choice

This Rome Reports video, about influences that helped direct the young Joseph Ratzinger towards his priestly vocation, includes an important anecdote about the day the future Pope rejected an overture to embrace Nazism.

“In 1943, 16-year-old Joseph was called up to duty, like all his fellow classmates and friends, and assigned tasks in Munich’s anti-aircraft defense,” the video recounts. “One night, an SS official woke everyone up in the barracks where the soldiers were sleeping. Playing on their fear and fatigue, the official tried to convince them to enroll as volunteers in the SS. Joseph said no because he wanted to become a priest. The official humiliated and made fun of him.”

“He always said that his calling to become a priest came very early,” Msgr. Thomas Frauenlob, former dean of the minor seminary in Traunstein, Germany, says in the video. “But it was in this confrontation with National Socialism, this huge lie which took hold, that he moved to becoming a priest.”