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You too can own your very own Cardinal Ratzinger hat!Image: AP

Everyone's Wild About "Ratzy"

DW staff (jam)
April 15, 2005

Britney's got hundreds, Cher's got her share. In fact, any celeb from minor on up has an Internet fan site. So does the Grand Inquisitor for Mother Rome, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, known as "Ratzy" to Internet friends.


Some call him God's Rottweiler; some say he could be the next pope; others just sigh and smile, and maybe cross themselves, when talking about their "Ratzy." Members of this latter group have set up a fan club on the Internet for their fave man in red, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, formerly archbishop of Munich, but for the past two decades, he was Pope John Paul II's right-hand man.

The Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club Web site has nothing but praise for the 78-year-old German who heads the Catholic Church's congregation for the doctrine of the faith, which, according to the site, keeps him busy "correcting theological error, silencing dissenting theologians, and stomping down heresy wherever it may rear its ugly head."

Kardinal Joseph Ratzinger Galeriebild
Image: AP

Ratzinger's supporters appear to share the same conservative, and often controversial, views as their hero. Ratzinger once wrote a letter of advice to US bishops on denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights. In another epistle to bishops worldwide, he decried a sort of feminism that makes women ''adversaries'' of men. He once called homosexuality a tendency toward "intrinsic moral evil.''

No matter to his adherents, who pooh-pooh any criticism, saying he "has received somewhat of a notorious reputation among the liberal media and 'enlightened' intelligentsia of pseudo-Catholic universities."

Web site visitors can read a glowing biography of the man once known as the "vice-pope," read collections of stories in the media about him, or learn what books they should be reading that reflect his own brand of muscular, some would say unforgiving, Catholicism.

If showing your devotion to the man in the virtual world isn't enough, fans can let their love be known out in the real world, too. The site features a Ratzinger shop, offering t-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs and even a black-and-white baseball cap that lets the world know where you stand. Printed on the front in big, black, Gothic lettering: "Papist."
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