A papal visit to Israel would be a mistake, was my first thought when it was announced. But then, the pope is first and foremost head of the Catholic Church and not a former Hitler youth. If it only were that easy! Now he is there and everything goes as expected. Benedict's remarks did not go far enough, there was no apology expressed, something was missing, there had been no mention of the Germans or the Nazis and he uttered not a word of regret. He didn't mention the number six, he used the word "killed" instead of "murdered" and as he had chosen to speak English, not the perpetrator's language, even his German accent was worth a comment. SO bad the son of a piss-poor village policemen didn't learn his English at Eton, Harrow or at least Ampleforth.
And as if that hadn't been enough, yesterday, at an "interfaith meeting" at the Notre Dame church in Jerusalem, a Palestinian cleric/judge/activist grabbed the microphone to deliver a hate-filled barrage against Israel. After hearing the translation of the -- Arabic -- words, the pope walked out. Muslims state that Benedict failed to adequately apologize for using a quote offensive to Islam in his 2006 Regensburg speech and it seems that the pope has a lot of apologizing to do.
Maybe it is inevitable that Benedict XVI is seen as German first and neither as one of the most eminent theologians of our time, nor as the representative of the global Catholic Church who has to understand, and deal with, the interests of all Catholics everywhere. He can not and must not speak first and foremost from a standpont of German guilt. He is speaking, too, for Catholics who have been victims of the Nazis. As the Polish pope with his koran-kissing and shameless shoulder rubbing with Muslim interests was seen as a friend of the Jews because his and the Jewish people were both targets of German eliminatory goals, Benedict is seen as German and German only. People love simple solutions.
There is an interesting discussion here (in German), from which I have paraphrased.
More on Pope Benedict for example here, here and here.