History Lite: Goldhagen, the Holocaust & the Truth
Lawler, Justus George, Commonweal
Before the war with Iraq there were at least three petitions, which gathered thousands of signatures, that the pope should take up residence in Baghdad as hostage against the American bombing of the city. Forty years from now, when the reasons for the invasion will certainly be debated by historians and journalists, and such obvious factors as imperial arrogance, regime change, oil, Saddam-obsession, etc., will have lost their cachet, it is likely that some revisionist will point to the failure of John Paul II to put his life on the line as a--if not the--major factor in the precipitation of the conflict. What may seem on its face a farcical suggestion assumes an air of probability when one looks at how the tragedy of the Holocaust has found a--if not the--perpetrator in the person of Pius XII. At least fifteen recent books in English explore this phenomenon.
This notion of the centrality of Pius to the Holocaust found its consummation in Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's A Moral Reckoning, reviewed by James J. Sheehan in Commonweal (November 8, 2002). As most readers will remember, Goldhagen's book originated in a review of several works on the church and the Holocaust, "especially books by James Carroll, David Kertzer, Michael Phayer, Garry Wills, and Susan Zuccotti, on which I often draw for the new evidence they have unearthed." What is curious about this list is that the two authors Goldhagen quotes most extensively--Carroll and Wills--are the only two who rely almost exclusively on secondary or tertiary literature, none of which entailed the "unearthing" of new evidence.
Thus when Karl Rahner and Pierre Benoit are accused by Goldhagen of being in the "mid-1960s...prominent Catholics [who] could not restrain themselves from expressing their …
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Publication information: Article title: History Lite: Goldhagen, the Holocaust & the Truth. Contributors: Lawler, Justus George - Author. Magazine title: Commonweal. Volume: 130. Issue: 9 Publication date: May 9, 2003. Page number: 17. © 1999 Commonweal Foundation. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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