The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican’s Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism

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David I. Kertzer

Publisher: Knopf

A groundbreaking historical study based on documents previously locked in the Vatican’s secret archives: The Popes Against the Jews graphically shows how the Catholic Church helped make the Holocaust possible.

Pope John Paul II, as part of his effort to improve Catholic-Jewish relations, has himself called for a clear-eyed historical investigation into any possible link be-tween the Church and the Holocaust. An important sign of his commitment was the recent decision to allow the distinguished historian David I. Kertzer, a specialist in Italian history, to be one of the first scholars given access to long-sealed Vatican archives.

The result is a book filled with shocking revelations. It traces the Vatican’s role in the development of modern anti-Semitism from the nineteenth century up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Kertzer shows why all the recent attention given to Pope Pius XII’s failure to publicly protest the slaughter of Europe’s Jews in the war misses a far more important point. What made the Holocaust possible was groundwork laid over a period of decades. In this campaign of demonization of the Jews—identifying them as traitors to their countries, enemies of all that was good, relentlessly pursuing world domination—the Vatican itself played a key role, as is shown here for the first time.

Despite its focus, this is not an anti-Catholic book. It seeks a balanced judgment and an understanding of the historical forces that led the Church along the path it took.

Inevitably controversial, written with devastating clarity and dispassionate authority, The Popes Against the Jews is a book of the greatest importance.

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Posted by Marshall on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010. Filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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