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A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repairby Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Synopses & Reviews
From the internationally renowned author of the best-selling Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust comes this penetrating moral inquiry into the Catholic Church’s role in the Holocaust that goes beyond anything previously written on the subject.
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen cuts through the historical and moral fog to lay out the full extent of the Catholic Church’s involvement in the Holocaust, transforming a narrow discussion fixated on Pope Pius XII into the long-overdue investigation of the Church throughout Europe. He shows that the Church’s and the Pope’s complicity in the persecution of the Jews goes much deeper than has been previously understood. The Church’s leaders were fully aware of the persecution. They did not speak out and urge resistance. Instead, they supported many aspects of it. Some clergy even took part in the mass murder.
But Goldhagen goes further. He develops a precise way to assess the Church and its clergy’s culpability, which was more extensive and varied than has been supposed. He then devotes the largest part of the book to proposing a new and fuller understanding of restitution, including moral restitution, and shows that the Church has, even according to its own doctrine, an unacknowledged duty of repair. He explores this duty, analyzes the Church’s tactics of evasion, and delineates all that the Church must do to redress the harm it inflicted on Jews and to heal itself.
Brilliantly researched and reasoned, A Moral Reckoning is a pathbreaking book of profound, and far-reaching, importance.
From the Hardcover edition.
The author of Hitler's Willing Executioners offers a provocative moral inquiry into the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust, exploring the complicity and culpability of Pope Pius XII and the Church throughout Europe in the persecution of the Jews, and explores the ways in which the Church must make reparations. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.
With his first book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen dramatically revised our understanding of the role ordinary Germans played in the Holocaust. Now he brings his formidable powers of research and argument to bear on the Catholic Church and its complicity in the destruction of European Jewry. What emerges is a work that goes far beyond the familiar inquiries—most of which focus solely on Pope Pius XII—to address an entire history of hatred and persecution that culminated, in some cases, in an active participation in mass-murder.
More than a chronicle, A Moral Reckoning is also an assessment of culpability and a bold attempt at defining what actions the Church must take to repair the harm it did to Jews—and to repair itself. Impressive in its scholarship, rigorous in its ethical focus, the result is a book of lasting importance.
About the Author
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, born 1959, grew up in the Boston area. He attended Harvard University where he received a BA in social studies and a masters and doctorate in political science. He subsequently was a political science professor at Harvard for many years, teaching courses on a range of subjects, including European politics, democracy, and genocide. In 1996 he published Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, which led to more prolonged and heated discussion around the world than just about any book in memory. It was an international bestseller that instantly turned Goldhagen into an international public figure, whose views are eagerly sought on both sides of the Atlantic. It won him many accolades, including Germany’s Democracy Prize, given only every three years, for his singular contribution to German democracy. The laudatio at the prize ceremony was delivered by perhaps Europe’s most esteemed and influential intellectual and philosopher, Jürgen Habermas.
Shortly afterwards, he decided to devote himself full-time to writing, and was in the midst of composing a book on genocide in our age (forthcoming with Knopf), when he produced an essay on the Catholic Church and the Holocaust for the New Republic, entitled, “What Would Jesus Have Done?” In writing it, he realized that some of the most crucial questions concerning the Holocaust and our public life more generally had been barely addressed, and certainly not answered properly, so he decided to temporarily put aside the book on genocide and write A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its unfulfilled Duty of Repair. Hugely anticipated here and in Europe (the Los Angeles Times wrote last spring, “Those inclined to handicap this fall’s publishing season already are giving long odds that the year’s most contoversial nonfiction book will be historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s A Moral Reckoning.”), it is a book that the Church and the public will not be able to ignore. It has already induced the leading Cardinal of the German Catholic Church and the Archbishop of Vienna to respond in interviews in their country’s major magazines.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Framing the problem — Clarifying the conduct — Judging the culpability — Repairing the harm — Mustering the will.
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