Stasi observed Ratzinger from 1974 on: report
4 October 2005, HAMBURG - The Stasi secret police in communist East Germany began in 1974 to observe the future Pope Benedict XVI, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday after obtaining the spies' file.
4 October 2005
HAMBURG - The Stasi secret police in communist East Germany began in 1974 to observe the future Pope Benedict XVI, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday after obtaining the spies' file.
The Stasi attempted to find embarrassing information about the childhood of Joseph Ratzinger, who grew up in Nazi Germany and was ordained a priest in West Germany after the Second World War, but found nothing, Bild am Sonntag said.
The newspaper said Stasi records mentioning Ratzinger had been assembled by the commissioner in charge of the archives and sent to the Vatican for the pope to examine. Only after he gave express agreement to publication was the file passed to the newspaper.
The Stasi rated Ratzinger, then a leading theology professor, as one of the "fiercest opponents of communism".
The newspaper said it had applied to see the files in February, in line with a German law that allows publication of Stasi notes on public figures after they give consent. The file was sent to the Vatican on April 19 and declassified in Berlin last Friday.
Bild said the documents suggested at least eight informers had been employed to observe Ratzinger, but only the identities of two of them could be established. They appeared to be superbly well informed.
One of the informers, code-named 'IMV Georg', had correctly forecast in 1979 that Ratzinger would be appointed prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as happened two years later.
A 1980s Stasi assessment of Ratzinger described him as the "third most influential politician and a leading ideologist" of the Vatican.
Subject: German news