The Long View 2002-01-25 Papal Election Campaign goes Negative

John did a lot of yeoman's work exposing the shoddy work that lay under claims that Pius XII somehow didn't do enough to prevent the Holocaust. This is a lie with legs, but John did as much as anyone to point out how deeply silly it is, even in the text of it's most ardent supporters' works.

John also pointed out here something I hadn't previously known about Catholic theology.

Even the crowd's self-condemnation in the passion narrative of Matthew 27:25, "His blood be on us, and on our children," is in fact an ironic request to be washed in the blood of the Lamb (cf John 11:49-53). The point is not obscure; Christian congregations become the crowd during Holy Week.

John was a fan of liturgy, another hobby that we shared. He attended a Latin mass in New Jersey, and would later be a fan of Benedict XVI, like myself. I was very jealous of his Latin mass church, for Christmas they celebrated masses arranged by Mozart. Some things really are better in the city.

Papal Election Campaign Goes Negative

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is best known as the author of Hitler's Willing Executioners, a book that purported to prove the existence of a species of "eliminationist antisemitism" unique to Germany. While Hitler's Willing Executioners is not without interest, most historians whose comments I have seen say that Goldhagen arbitrarily turned his sources on their heads. He cannot be accused of doing that in his long review-essay that appeared in The New Republic of January 21, 2002, entitled "What Would Jesus Have Done?" What seems to have happened is that someone dumped a boxful of anti-papalist polemics on his desk. For the most part, Catholic liberals who hope to reverse the policies of the pontificate of John Paul II during the next papacy write this literature. Whether through malice or stupidity, Goldhagen bought their arguments in their entirety. The result is a parody of bad historiography. Having read this essay, I would not trust Daniel Goldhagen to interpret a bus schedule.

The polemics in question deal in large part with what Pius XII did and failed to do to help the Jews of Europe, particularly of Italy, during the Nazi persecutions of the Second World War. It cannot be repeated too often that the question is wildly anachronistic. Neither the West nor the Nazi government thought at the time that Pius XII was silent on the subject. Similarly, the Church in Italy was profusely thanked after the war for the help given by Catholic institutions, largely at the instance of Pius XII, in hiding and supporting Jews persecuted by the Nazis. Goldhagen so prefers his thesis to fact that he says the survivors who offered these testimonials were deceived, or currying favor. Instead, he cites as the last word on the subject Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy. Written by Susan Zuccotti, the book seeks to debunk accounts of assistance to the Jews by noting that the underground did not keep documentation. Regarding the title of Zuccotti's book, it is the measure of Goldhagen that he is quite capable of condemning Pius XII for not making a public statement denouncing the deportation of Jews from Rome, without mentioning that Vatican officials did in fact get the collections stopped.