Skip to comments.Biography of Joseph Ratzinger
Posted on 04/19/2005 12:24:34 PM PDT by Fred
Joseph Ratzinger was born in Marktl am Inn (on the Inn River), Germany, 16 April 1927, Holy Saturday, and was the first person baptized in the Easter Water blessed at the Easter Vigil. His father, a policeman, from a family of farmers in Lower Baveria, was frequently transferred. In 1929, young Joseph's family moved to Tittmoning, a small town on the Salzach River, on the Austrian border. In 1932 his father's outspoken criticism of the Nazis required the family to relocate to Auschau am Inn, at the foot of the Alps. His father retired in 1937, and his family moved to Hufschlag, outside of Traunstein. There Joseph began studying classical languages at the local gymnasium or high school. In 1939, he entered the minor seminary in Traunstein, his first step toward the priesthood.
World War II forced a postponement of his studies, until 1945, when he re-entered the seminary with his brother Georg. In 1947, he entered the Herzogliches Georgianum, a theological institute associated with the University of Munich. Finally, on 29 June 1951, both Josef and his brother were ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Faulhaber, in the Cathedral at Freising, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
Continuing his theological studies at the University of Munich, he received his doctorate in theology in July 1953, with a thesis entitled The People and House of God in Augustine's doctrine of the Church. He fulfilled a requirement for teaching at the university level by completing a book-length treatise on Bonaventures theology of history and revelation. On 15 April 1959, he began lectures as a full professor of fundamental theology at the University of Bonn. From 1962-1965, he was present during all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council as a peritus, or chief theological advisor, to Cardinal Josef Frings of Köln (Cologne), Germany.
In 1963, he began teaching at the University of Münster, taking, in 1966, a second chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen. A wave of student uprisings swept across Europe in 1968, and Marxism quickly became the dominant intellectual system at Tübingen. He had no sympathy with the new radical theology, so in 1969 he moved back to Bavaria and took a teaching position at the University of Regensburg. There, he eventually became dean and vice president. He was also a member of the International Theological Commission of the Holy See from 1969 until 1980.
In 1972, together with Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henry De Lubac and others, he launched the Catholic theological journal Communio, a quarterly review of Catholic theology and culture. It has been said that this was done in repsonse to the misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council by Karl Rahner, Hans Kung and others, as represented by the theological journal Concilium.
On 24 March 1977, Fr. Ratzinger was elected Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI. He was ordained to the episcopal Order on 28 May 1977, taking as his motto a phrase from 3 John 8, "Fellow Worker in the Truth." On 27 June 1977, he was elevated to Cardinal (Cardinal Priest) by Pope Paul VI, with the titular church of St. Mary of Consolation (in Tiburtina). In 1980, he was named by Pope John Paul II to chair the special Synod on the Laity. Shortly after that, the pope asked him to head the Congregation for Catholic Education. Cardinal Ratzinger declined, feeling he shouldn't leave his post in Munich too soon. On 25 November 1981, he did become, however, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, becoming at the same time ex officio the President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and the International Theological Commission.
Cardinal Ratzinger was President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and after 6 years of work (1986-92) he presented the new Catechism to the Holy Father. On 5 April 1993, he was transferred to the order of Cardinal Bishops, with the suburbicarian see of Velletri-Signi. On 9 November 1998, his election as Vice-Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals was approved by Pope John Paul II, and the Holy Father approved his election as Dean of the College of Cardinals on 30 November 2002, with the title of the suburbicarian See of Ostia added to that of Velletri-Segni.
Besides his prefecture at the Doctrine of the Faith, his curial memberships include: the Second Section of the Secretariat of State, the Congregation of Bishops, of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, of Catholic Education, of Evangelization of Peoples, for the Oriental Churches; and the Pontifical Councils for Christian Unity, for Culture (councils); as well as, the Commissions Ecclesia Dei, and for Latin America.
As Dean of the College he has presided over the College's deliberations during the Vacancy of the Holy See, after the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005.
Doctrinal documents published by Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzingers prefecuture:
Notification regarding the book "Jesus Symbol of God" of Fr Roger Haight, S. J., 13 December 2004
Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world (July 31, 2004)
Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons (July 31, 2003)
Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life (January 16, 2003)
Note on the Force of the Doctrinal Decrees Concerning the Thought and Work of Fr Antonio Rosmini Serbati, 1st July 2001
Notification regarding certain writings of Fr. Marciano Vidal, C.Ss.R. (Notificatio super quibusdam scriptis Marciani Vidal), February 22, 2001
Notification on the book «Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism» by Fr. Jacques Dupuis, S.J., January 24, 2001
Notification concerning some writings of Professor Dr Reinhard Meßner, (Notifikation bezüglich einiger Veröffentlichungen von Professor Dr. Reinhard Meßner), November 30, 2000
Instruction on prayers for healing Ardens felicitatis (Instructio de orationibus ad obtinendam a Deo sanationem), September 14, 2000
Declaration on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church Dominus Iesus (Declaratio de Iesu Christi atque Ecclesiae unicitate et universalitate salvifica), August 6, 2000
Note on the expression «Sister Churches», June 30, 2000
Documents regarding "The Message of Fatima", June 26, 2000
Notification regarding Sister Jeannine Gramick, ssnd, and Father Robert Nugent, sds, May 31, 1999
Considerations « The Primacy of the successor of Peter in the mistery of the Church », October 31, 1998
Formula to be used for the profession of faith and for the oath of fidelity to assume an office to be exercised in the name of the Church with the Illustrative doctrinal Note of the conclusive formula of Professio fidei (Professio fidei et Iusiurandum fidelitatis in suscipiendo officio nomine Ecclesiae exercendo una cum nota doctrinali adnexa), June 29, 1998
Notification concerning the writings of Father Anthony De Mello, S.J. (Notificatio circa scripta Patris Antonii De Mello, S.I.), June 24, 1998
Notification on the book «Mary and human liberation» of Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I., January 2nd, 1997
Notification on the writings and activities of Mrs. Vassula Ryden (Notificatio de scriptis et operibus dominae Vassulae Ryden), October 6, 1995
Responses to questions proposed concerning uterine isolation and related matters (Responsa ad proposita dubia circa «interclusionem uteri» et alias quaestiones), July 31, 1993
Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on Non-discrimination of Homosexual Persons, July 23, 1992
Decree on the doctrine and customs of the Association «Opus Angelorum» (Decretum de doctrina et usibus particularibus consociationis cui nomen «Opus Angelorum»), June 6, 1992
Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of the Church understood as Communion Communionis notio (Litterae ad Catholicae Ecclesiae episcopos de aliquibus aspectibus Ecclesiae prout est communio), May 28, 1992
Instruction on some aspects of the use of the instruments of social communication in promoting the doctrine of the faith The Second Vatican Council, March 30, 1992
Note on the book «The Sexual Creators, An Ethical proposal for Concerned Christians» (University Press of America, Lanham-New York-London 1986) by Fr. André Guindon, O.M.I., January 31, 1992
Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian Donum veritatis (Instructio de Ecclesiali Theologi vocatione), May 24, 1990
Letter on certain aspects of the Christian meditation Orationis formas (Epistula ad totius Catholicae Ecclesiae Episcopos de quibusdam rationibus christianae meditationis), October 15, 1989
Note regarding «The moral rule of Humanae vitae and the pastoral duty», February 16, 1989
Observations on ARCIC II's «Salvation and the Church», November 18, 1988
Formula to be used for the profession of faith and for the oath of fidelity to assume an office to be exercised in the name of the Church (Professio fidei et Iusiurandum fidelitatis in suscipiendo officio nomine Ecclesiae exercendo), July 1st, 1988
Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation Donum vitae (Instructio de observantia erga vitam humanam nascentem deque procreationis dignitate tuenda. Responsiones ad quasdam quaestiones nostris temporibus agitatas), February 22, 1987
Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons Homosexualitatis (Epistula de pastorali personarum homosexualium cura), October 1st, 1986
Notification on the book «Pleidooi voor mensen in de Kerk» (Nelissen, Baarn 1985) by prof. Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., September 15, 1986
Letter to György Bulányi on certain writings attributed to him, September 1st, 1986
Letter regarding the suspension of Carlo Curran from the teaching of theology (Epistula R. D. Carlo Curran, Vasingtoniae degenti, missa), July 25, 1986
Instruction on Christian freedom and liberation Libertatis conscientia (Instructio de libertate christiana et liberatione), March 22, 1986
Notification on the Book «Church: Charism and Power. Essay on militant Ecclesiology » by Father Leonardo Boff, O.F.M., March 11, 1985
Instruction on certain aspects of the "Theology of Liberation" Libertatis nuntius (Instructio de quibusdam rationibus «Theologiae Liberationis»), August 6, 1984
Letter to Father Edward Schillebeeckx regarding his book «Kerkelijk Ambt» («The ministry in the Church», 1980), June 13, 1984
Decisions on the translation of the article «Carnis resurrectionem» of the Apostolic Symbol, December 14, 1983
Letter to His Em. Card. Ioseph Höffner, Archbishop of Cologne, regarding the «Work of the angels» (Epistula Em.mo ac Rev.mo Domino Iosepho Card. Höffner, Archiepiscopo Colonien., missa: De peracto examine circa Opus Angelorum), September 24, 1983
Notification regarding Rev. Georges de Nantes (Notification à propos de labbé Georges de Nantes), May 13, 1983
Observations on the final report of ARCIC (Animadversiones quas Sacra Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, de mandato SS.mi super enuntiatis ultimis Commissionis vulgo ARCIC cognominatae, de Eucharistica doctrina, de sacris Ordinibus atque de subiecto auctoritatis in Ecclesia, exaravit et omnibus Conferentiis Episcoporum die 2 Aprilis transmisit), March 27, 1982
Letter to H.E. Msgr. Alan C. Clark regarding the final report of ARCIC (Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission) (Epistula quam Praefectus Sacrae Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei Em.mus P.D. Iosephus Cardinalis Ratzinger, ob editam relationem finalem a Commissione, cui vulgo nome Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission [ARCIC], compraesidi eiusdem Commissionis, R.P.D. Alano C. Clark, episcopo Angliae Orientalis, die 27 martii 1982 scripsit), March 27, 1982
Some quotes from his books:
God and the World
On Christmas: "As a mere exchange of material goods, Christmas is coming under the power of wanting-for-oneself; it is becoming the instrument of an insatiable egoism and has fallen under the sway of possessions and of powerwhereas this event in fact brings us exactly the opposite message. Pruning back Christmas so that it is once again simple would be an enormous achievement."
The Wrath of God: "The wrath of God is a way of saying that I have been living in a way that is contrary to the love that is God. Anyone who begins to live and grow away from God, who lives away from what is good, is turning his life toward wrath."
On True Love: "Love, in the true sense, is not always a matter of giving way, being soft, and just acting nice. In that sense, a sugar-coated Jesus or a God who agrees to everything and is never anything but nice and friendly is no more than a caricature of real love. Because God loves us, because he wants us to grow into truth, he must necessarily make demands on us and must also correct us."
The Feminine: "It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stand at the heart of the Christian religion. And this is not in competition with Christ. To think of Christ and Mary as being in competition means ignoring the essential distinctions between these two figures. . . . That is not a competition, but a more profound kind of intimacy. The Mother and Virgin forms an essential part of the Christian picture of man."
On Liturgy: "We do at least need a new liturgical consciousness, to be rid of this spirit of arbitrary fabrication. Things have gone so far that Sunday litugy groups are cobbling together the liturgy for themselves. . . . The most important thing today is that we should regain respect for the liturgy and for the fact that it is not to be manipulated."\
The Spirit of the Liturgy
The Christian faith can never be separated from the soil of sacred events, from the choice made by God, who wanted to speak to us, to become man, to die and rise again, in a particular place and at a particular time. . . . The Church does not pray in some kind of mythical omnitemporality. She cannot forsake her roots. She recognizes the true utterance of God precisely in the concreteness of its history, in time and place: to these God ties us, and by these we are all tied together. The diachronic aspect, praying with the Fathers and the apostles, is part of what we mean by rite, but it also includes a local aspect, extending from Jerusalem to Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Rites are not, therefore, just the products of inculturation, however much they may have incorporated elements from different cultures. They are forms of the apostolic Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of the Tradition.
Unspontaneity is of their essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. This is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the "Divine Liturgy", expressing thereby the liturgy's independence from human control.
Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy. In about the third century, there was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an appearance. . . . Dancing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, because, after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the different religions have different purposes - incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy - none of which is compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy as the "reasonable sacrifice". It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy "attractive" by introducing dancing pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes), which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals' point of view) end with applause. Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly - it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.
This action of God, which takes place through human speech, is the real "action" for which all creation is in expectation. The elements of the earth are transubstantiated, pulled, so to speak, from their creaturely anchorage, grasped at the deepest ground of their being, and changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord. The New Heaven and the New Earth are anticipated. The real "action" in the liturgy in which we are all supposed to participate is the action of God himself. This is what is new and distinctive about the Christian liturgy: God himself acts and does what is essential.
The Cross is the approbation of our existence, not in words, but in an act so completely radical that it caused God to become flesh and pierced this flesh to the quick; that, to God, it was worth the death of his incarnate Son. One who is so loved that the other identifies his life with this love and no longer desires to live if he is deprived of it; one who is loved even unto death such a one knows that he is truly loved. But if God so loves us, then we are loved in truth. Then love is truth, and truth is love. Then life is worth living. This is the evangelium. This is why, even as the message of the Cross, it is glad tidings for one who believes; the only glad tidings that destroy the ambiguity of all other joys and make them worthy to be joy. Christianity is, by its very nature, joy the ability to be joyful.
Formal Principles of Catholicism
Jesus dies because there are forces hostile to truth; his obedience is fiedelity to truth in conflict with the tangled web of untruth. But it is precisely by obeying truth that he obeys both the Father and the Scripture that he interprets by virtue of his immediate relationship to God, that he thereby opens anew to his inmost foundation, filling it with a new reality by his living of its word. His relationship to the fundamental ground of being is a relationship of real union with the fundamental truth that is, Sonship: in this relationship to God, the very letter becomes flesh.
Introduction to Christianity
In Jesus life from the Father, in the immediacy and closeness of his association with him in prayer and indeed face to face, he is Gods witness, through whom the intangible has become tangible, the distant has drawn near. And further: he is not simpl7y the witness whose evidence we mtrust when he tells us what he had seen in an existence which had already made the about-turn from a false concentration on the foreground of life to the depths of the whole truth; he is the presence of the eternal itself in this world
God is Near Us: The Eucharist the Heart of Life
But that means that the Eucharist is far more than just a meal; it has cost a death to provide it, and the majesty of death is present in it. Whenever we hold it, we should be filled with reverence in the face of this mystery, with awe in the face of this mysterious death the becomes a present reality in our midst. Page 44
The Christian feast, the Eucharist, plumbs the very depths of death. It is not just a matter of pious discourse and entertainment, of some kind of religious beautification, spreading a pious gloss on the world; it plumbs the very depths of existence, which it call death . . . . what the tradition sums up in the sentence: The Eucharist is a sacrifice, the presentation of Jesus Christs sacrifice on the Cross. page 44
The Eucharist is not itself the sacrament of reconciliation, but in fact it presupposes that sacrament. It is the sacrament of the reconciled, to which the Lord invites all those who have become one with him; who certainly still remain weak sinners, but yet have give their hand to him and have become part of his family. That is why, form the beginning, the Eucharist has been preceded by a discernment. Page 66
Thus he makes his word come true: I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself (Jn 12:32). That is why we do not need to harbor the fear that motivated Luther to protest against the Catholic idea of Mass as sacrifice, that thereby the glory of Christ might be diminished, or that the sacrifice was not enough and that we ought to, or could, add something to it. Such mistaken ideas may well have been current, but they have nothing to do with the real meaning of the concept of the sacrificial character of the Mass. Page 50
God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald
man was not just thrown up into the world by some quirk of evolution. The underlying truth is that each person is meant to exist. Each person is Gods own idea. Within everything that just for the moment exist factually, a plan and an idea are at work, and this gives meaning to my search for my own ideal self and to my coexistence with the world and with the onward path of history. Page 75
There is one thing we must not forget: it has always been the Mother who reached people in missionary situations and made Christ accessible to them. That is especially true of Latin America. Here, to some extent, Christianity arrived by way of Spanish swords, with deadly heralds. In Mexcio, at first, absolutely nothing could be done about missionary work until the occurrence for the phenomenon at Guadalupe, and then the Son was suddenly near by way of his Mother. Page 300
You can never predict in advance how things will turn our. Anyone who is extrapolating the decline of the church in academic, statistical fashion from the situation in Europe is failing to recognize the unpredictable nature of human history in general and in particular, Gods power to take the initiative by intervening, as he is always able to do. page 459
Initially, it was possible for people to think, with respect to Lourdes, that this little girl had fantasized something. And then it turned out after all the she herself was really there, the Mother -Mary. It is certainly not by chance that people are nowadays turning again to Mary, in whom Christianity becomes loveable again and close to us, and we really do find the door again through the Mother. Page 459
The Church does not invent sins but recognizes the will of God and has to declare it. Of course, the great thing . . . is that upon the Church, which has to declare the will of God in its full magnitude, in its unconditional rigor, so that man should know his true measure, is bestowed as a gift, at the same time, the task of forgiving. Page 67
Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End of the Millennium : An Interview With Peter Seewald
when you are studying theology, your intention is not to learn a trade but to understand the faith, and this presupposes, as we said a while ago, using the words of Augustine, that the faith is true, that, in other words, it opens the door to a correct understanding of your own life, of the world and of men. Page 59
For me [becoming Perfect of the Congregation for the Faith] the cost was that I couldnt do full time what I hand envisaged for myself, namely really contributing my thinking and speaking to the great intellectual conversation of our time, by developing an opus of my own. I had to descend to the little and various things pertaining to factual conflicts and events. I had to leave aside a great part of what would interest me and simply serve and to accept that as my task. And I had to free myself from the idea that I absolutely have to write or read this or that, I had to acknowledge that my task is here. Pages 116,117
With such a written record of traditional views, I don't see how the Democrats let him become Pope!
Interesting that they completely ignored the fact that he was a member of the Hitler Youth...
What did he do during the war?
I was wondering the same thing. They completely skipped WW2.
Yeah, I was kind of interested in the period during the war. No mention of it.
You mean they could not pull a filibuster out of their back pockets?
Here's the guys war years bio...
New Pope Risked Death by Deserting in WWII
Tuesday April 19, 2005 8:16 PM
By DAVID McHUGH
Associated Press Writer
BERLIN (AP) - In May 1945, thousands of German prisoners of war trudged down the highway toward the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling. Among them - tired but grateful to be alive - was 18-year-old Joseph Ratzinger, who days before had risked death by deserting the German army.
``In three days of marching, we hiked down the empty highway, in a column that gradually became endless,'' the new pope recalled years later in his memoirs.
``The American soldiers photographed us, the young ones, most of all, in order to take home souvenirs of the defeated army and its desolate personnel.''
Like his predecessor, John Paul II, Ratzinger was marked by the terror-filled years of World War II. Karol Wojtyla was forced to work in a quarry and narrowly escaped arrest in a mass roundup of young men by the Germans in Krakow; Ratzinger's experiences were also harrowing.
In particular, his decision to leave his army unit just after he turned military age could have cost Ratzinger his life.
At the time, he knew that the dreaded SS units would shoot a deserter on the spot - or hang him from a lamppost as a warning to others. He recalled his terror when he was stopped by other soldiers.
``Thank God they were ones who had had enough of war and did not want to become murderers,'' he wrote in his book, ``Aus meinem Leben,'' published in English as ``Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977.''
``They had to find a reason to let me go. I had my arm in a sling because of an injury.''
``Comrade, you are wounded,'' they told him. ``Go on.''
Soon he was home with his father, Josef, and his mother, Maria.
For years, he and his family had watched the Nazis strengthen their grip on Germany. His father, a policeman and a convinced anti-Nazi, moved the family at least once after clashing with local followers of the party. A local teacher, he remembered, became an ardent follower of the new movement, and tried to institute a pagan May pole ritual as more fitting of Germanic ways than the traditional, conservative Catholicism.
In 1941, Ratzinger, 14, and his brother, Georg were enrolled in the Hitler Youth when it became mandatory for all boys. Soon after, he writes in his book, ``The Salt of the Earth,'' he was let out because of his intention to study for the priesthood.
In 1943, like many teenage boys, he was drafted as a helper for an anti-aircraft brigade, which defended a BMW plant outside Munich. Later, he dug anti-tank trenches. When he turned 18, on April 16, 1945, he was put through basic training, alongside men in their 30s and 40s, drafted as the Nazi Reich went through its death agony. He was stationed near his hometown - he doesn't say where - but did not see combat with the approaching U.S. troops.
After he returned home, the Americans finally arrived - and set up their headquarters in his parents 18th century farmhouse on the outskirts of the town.
They identified him as a German soldier, made him put on his uniform, put up his hands, and marched him off to the town square, where other prisoners were kept. He wound up living in the open air for several weeks, surrounded by barbed wire.
He was finally released June 19 and hitched a ride on a milk truck back to Traunstein.
His family was happy to see him.
``Of course, for full joy, something was missing. Since the beginning of April, there had been no word from Georg,'' he remembered. ``So there was a quiet worry in our house.''
Suddenly, in the middle of July, in walked Georg, tanned and unharmed. He sat at the piano and banged out the hymn, ``Grosser Gott, wir Loben Dich,'' ``Mighty God, we Praise You'' as his family rejoiced.
The war was truly over.
``The following months of regained freedom, which we now had learned to value so much, belong to the happiest months of my life,'' he wrote.
This new pope is 78. He'll probably stay pope for 10 years until he dies. I'm wondering why a younger pope couldn't have been found to rule a longer time, say a pope in his 50s who probably could rule about 30 years.
A similar thought crossed my mind...
Maybe they didn't want someone who become as big as the jobs as it were... e.g. stepping into JPII's shoes is a pretty tough task because the guy'd been around so long...
Maybe they think a 10 year term is sufficient?
Nice 'Laugh In' reference!
What is this about the May pole??...It's been in German tradition way before Nazi Germany...I don't understand this sentence...
I heard an explanation for this on Fox news several weeks ago. It was said that after a long-reigning Pope, sometimes they'll go for someone old who they know won't be around for a long time and this gives them a chance to really search for someone who will be Pope for a long time. I'm just reporting.
Just about every kid was.
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