Did the Roman Catholic Church’s centuries- long dehumanizing of Jews cause the Holocaust? Certainly not, says retired Judge Anthony J. Sciolino. But the Church’s history of scapegoating, demonizing, persecuting, and denouncing Jews surely prepared the political landscape of Europe for the seeds of hatred that Adolf Hitler brought to fruition in the systematic slaughter of six million Jews.
In The Holocaust, the Church and the Law of Unintended Consequences: How Christian Anti-Judaism Spawned Nazi Anti-Semitism, Judge Sciolino says the Nazi war machine faced little direct resistance from either the Vatican or the Catholics of Europe because Jews had been dismissed as “Christ killers” and as subhuman beings for centuries. It was, he writes, a classic case of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Sciolino, an ordained deacon in the Roman Catholic Church with a graduate degree in theology, approaches the 20th century’s greatest crime with a judge’s skill at evaluating evidence. He has marshaled an impressive array of scholarly research and primary sources to connect institutionalized hostility to the Jewish people with the “unintended consequence” the world knows as the Holocaust.