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After Goldhagen finished the New Republic article ("What Would Jesus Have Done?" January 21, 2002), he remained so wholly absorbed in the issue that he put aside another project he was working on and devoted himself to a book-length treatment of a single question: "What must a religion of love and goodness do to confront its history of hatred and harm, and to perform restitution?
A few years ago, after the international success of his book Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Goldhagen jotted down some possible topics for future work.
Nothing about the Catholic Church appeared anywhere on that list.
What he undertakes, rather, is exactly what the title suggests: a consideration of culpability and repair.
He lays out a set of moral principles and applies them to the Catholic Church, judging its past actions, examining its present shortcomings, and suggesting reforms for its future.
None of these questions can be answered without opening a long, soul-searching discussion.
All of Goldhagen's concerns about the Church can essentially be boiled down to this statement: by blaming the whole Jewish people for the death of Jesus, Catholicism, the most organized and powerful form of Christianity, laid fertile ground for the Holocaust.
After the flames die down and the incendiary is dead, you say that you never told him or your followers explicitly to kill....
Would you believe that, under such a scenario, others would hold you innocent of all blame?
Goldhagen not only reviews past events but meticulously surveys the official Catholic Bible, listing hundreds of passages that he says overtly slander the Jewish people: 40 in Mark, 60 in Luke, 80 in Matthew, 140 in the Acts of the Apostles.
While the degree of anti-Semitism in some verses may be open to debate, Goldhagen puts forward several compelling examples, as when Luke calls the Jews a "brood of vipers" or Paul proclaims that followers of Judaism will never gain forgiveness from God.