Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 20:28 GMT
Author blames Vatican for Holocaust
By the BBC’s Mike Duff
An article in the latest edition of the influential American magazine New
Republic looks likely to reopen the controversy over the role played by the
Vatican during World War II.
The 27,000-word article – which hit newsstands in the United States this
week – accuses the Roman Catholic Church of providing the intellectual
stimulus for Nazism and the Holocaust.
It is among the most savage attacks yet made on the record of alleged
But the author of this huge article is no stranger to controversy.
Daniel J Goldhagen’s best-known book blamed ordinary Germans for the
Holocaust. It was an award-winning bestseller, although some critics accused
him of taking liberties with the truth.
Dr Goldhagen – a professor of government and social studies at Harvard
University – has now turned his fire on Christianity in general, and the
Catholic Church in particular.
Some of the allegations have been made before, notably that the Pope during
the war, Pius XII, didn’t do enough to protect the Jews, even though he must
have known what was happening to them.
But Dr Goldhagen does not stop there.
B i b l e l e s s o n s
He goes on to condemn Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, for
intellectually preparing the ground for the Holocaust.
His argument, in a nutshell, is that traditional Church teaching – blaming
Jews for the death of Christ – sowed the seeds of the genocidal
anti-Semitism of the 20th Century.
On top of that, he says, the Church has refused to face up to its
inescapable moral responsibility.
For its part, the Vatican has always argued that its cautious,
non-confrontational policy saved more people than if it had condemned Nazi
excesses from the pulpit.
Dr Goldhagen says such arguments are bizarre and nonsensical, topped only by
those revisionist historians who try to argue that the Holocaust didn’t
The current Pope had been keen to start the process that might one day have
seen his predecessor made a saint.
That had already been put on hold after earlier evidence of Pius XII’s
alleged anti-Semitism came to light.
Amid the likely row over Dr Goldhagen’s article, one thing is clear. It
won’t do anything to heal the deeply-felt hurt of Jews everywhere – or put
Pius XII’s canonisation back on track.
END OF THE ARTICLE
More information about Dr. Goldhangen is available at
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