Imagine if a world leader said that Jews were a threat to humanity.

Imagine the outrage such a statement would provoke, especially if that leader was German.

Just days before the celebration of the birth of Christ, the saviour of the world, a man who claims to he his representative on earth has chosen to vilify and attack the very existence of a vulnerable and persecuted minority group.

It is an instructive exercise to take Pope Benedict’s latest homophobic outburst and substitute the word “Jew” for “homosexual.”

The Pope’s detractors are always quick to point to his service in the Hitler Youth as a teenager.

His supporters are equally quick to insist his membership was compulsory and that the young Joseph Ratzinger was never a Nazi, just an innocent German boy who was forced into a form of national service while his country was at war.

That is probably true.

But today, as the world reels from another outburst of pure hatred and abuse directed at gays and lesbians, and an ever more vicious attack on trans people, it is hard not to wonder how much his early years affected his attitudes.

Gay people are a serious threat to the existence of humanity, as serious as global warming. Does any of that rhetoric sound familiar?

Even the most casual observer of history cannot help but be struck by the chilling parallel.

Since he took control of the Roman Catholic Church in 2005, Benedict has displayed an obsession with gay people.

Again and again he has demeaned, demonised and targeted sexual minorities.

We can only hope the hundreds of millions of Roman Catholics across the world do not take their leader at his word.

History is littered with the consequences of statements like Pope Benedict’s.

Perhaps he would feel better if gay people wore a special badge, so that Catholics can identify these destroyers of humanity.

If gays are as dangerous as Pope Benedict claims, the only logical conclusion is that they should be prevented from teaching children, running businesses, owning property – surely if these people threaten our very civilisation, they should be stopped.

Any person who claims to be a Christian should be ashamed of thinking, never mind saying, that any group of people, of God’s creations, are a “threat” to humanity.

But to hear this poison fall from the lips of a German who lived through the Holocaust, lived through the horrors of war, would make Jesus himself weep.