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Jews did not kill Jesus, pope writes in new book
Pope Benedict XVI on March 2, 2011.
March 2nd, 2011
12:47 PM ET

Jews did not kill Jesus, pope writes in new book

The Jewish people are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI writes a book to be published next week.

Many Catholics and other Christians blamed Jews for Jesus' death for hundreds of years, but the Catholic Church formally repudiated that assertion in the 1960s.

Benedict underlines the new position in his book "Jesus of Nazareth."

"Who has insisted on the condemnation of Jesus to death?" he asks in the book, referring to scenes in the Gospels where the people of Jerusalem demand that Roman governor Pontius Pilate have Jesus crucified.

The Gospel of John says the people in question were "the Judeans," but the pope says the term "does not refer to - unlike the modern reader may tend to interpret - the people of Israel as such, and it doesn't even have a 'racist' connotation."

Far from meaning all Jewish people, Benedict writes, "the circle of prosecutors pursuing the death of Jesus" is the "aristocracy of the Temple," or the priesthood.

"Even that is not without exception," he adds in the book, excerpts of which were obtained by CNN.

Benedict has had a difficult relationship with Jews during his six-year papacy.

He infuriated many by welcoming back into the church a rebel bishop who is on record as saying that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler did not have a systematic plan to murder Europe's Jews. The rebel bishop also minimized the role of the Auschwitz death camp in the Holocaust.

Benedict later ordered the bishop, Richard Williamson, to recant his views, saying the Vatican was not aware of them when it decided to lift his excommunication.

Benedict also put his predecessor, Pius XII, on the path to sainthood, further antagonizing many Jews, who believe the World War II-era pope did little to save Jews from Hitler.

But Benedict also last year became the first pope to visit Rome's main synagogue since 1986, trying to smooth feathers on an annual "Day of Dialogue" with the Jewish community.

The Jewish community "believes that Benedict's desire to continue dialogue is sincere," said Lisa Palmieri-Billig, the American Jewish Committee's liaison to the Holy See, just before the January 2010 meeting. "They believe the dialogue and the relationship are very important."

CNN's Gisella Deputato contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Judaism • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (1,434 Responses)
  1. Dave Bowman

    It is an historical fact that the Jewish authorities – representing the Jewish people; along with Pontius Pilate – representing the Roman Empire; conspired to kill the real historical Person of Jesus of Nazereth. [See Josephus' "Antiquities of the Jews." This historical fact is proven independantly of the Sacred Scriptures.

    February 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  2. Mailutha

    The Pope is absolutely correct and he actually acknowledging what historians have said in the past. Most of what is written about the birth of Jesus are individual's and individual church's indoctrinations.

    December 24, 2012 at 5:01 am |
  3. Lindy

    The Pope better goes back and do his homework trough history. The Holy Scripture are God’s words given to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides each one of the Prophets, Apostles, and Saints down through the being of time. God, “created the heaven and earth,” “God was the first one that spoke and gave human language, “Let there be light.” I have read some of Jesus early childhood books and I have read article from the Church Fathers about His apostles, plus other prophets and Muhammad.
    Wakeup these are events that was given trough God’s grace to save his children. No one should talk against any of God’s prophets. As far as” Angels” they have come down here to earth and help God’s prophets, Father Abraham, Jacob, King David, plus God help ever one of them. Jacob, wrestle with God and was left with a bad knee. God spoke to Moses down here on earth. Christmas was made on a pagan holiday by the Pope of Roman. Why they want to convert the pagans’ worship with other God’s. Christmas is on the night that Nimrod sacrifices children to the moon God. I am going to quote one thing!!!!!!!!!!!!! Witnesses of Jesus Christ death impact the early Christians where they died as witness for Jesus. Why did Jesus witness give up their lives and they saw nothing at all?
    It is amazing reading back tough the time of God’s history. I try to keep my mind open for what God wants from His children down here on “Earth,” now. The Popes and Priest have hidden things for generations from God’s children. Also remember this we also have events from the Dead Sea scrolls plus other literature from time of old.

    December 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  4. Wilson Ometan

    The Pope is absolutely right. But there is another twist to it. It wasn't Jesus that was crucified. It was actually his twin brother Christ who didn't die but was sold to an Indian merchant. Jesus as the records say, was stoned to death in the country where I live. It's also on record that Queen Victoria at one time claimed her country people are Israrlites. You have to reason in that line to understand

    December 9, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  5. How do you kill a fictional character in a book?

    With FICTION, of course!

    AND – in this case, poorly written FICTION, at that.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  6. "aristocracy of the Temple," or the priesthood = JEWS

    "aristocracy of the Temple," or the priesthood.

    They weren't Jewish? Huh. Jewish priests who aren't Jewish.

    Ah – I'll bet the little dickens were Episcapalian Baptist Lutherans, (Reformed), weren't they?

    December 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  7. Bob

    Jesus death cannot be attributed to anyone people Jews or Romans. It was the work of God to cleanse us of all of our sins it couldn't have been any other way. He had a job to do that only He could do and He did it over the distractions in this world up to and including the time in the garden when He prayed if this cup can be taken from me but Your will be done not mine. There is another scripture that speaks like this it involves praise If we as his people stop praising Him the rocks will cry out. God has ordained this to happen and the way it was supposed to happen so it will happen. My question is why is the Pope coming out with this now? Why is he saying this about the Nazis? What is the motive? Are we in the new Roman rule or is this what is being prepared?

    December 2, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Bryan

      Amen! John 10:15 &17-18 15. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I LAY DOWN MY LIFE for the sheep. 17. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I LAY DOWN MY LIFE, THAT I MIGHT TAKE IT AGAIN. 18. NO MAN TAKETH IT FROM ME, but I LAY IT DOWN OF MYSELF. I HAVE POWER TO LAY IT DOWN OF MYSELF. I HAVE POWER TO LAY IT DOWN, and I HAVE POWER TO TAKE IT AGAIN. This commandment have I received of my Father.
      Not sure the answers to your questions, but it is curious timing.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  8. TheTruth

    The Jews demanded that the Romans crucify Jesus, as they couldn't carry out the death penalty themselves. Pilate ordered and had his men carry out Jesus' death. But this was foretold and fore-ordained: He died on the cross for the sins of all of us. Blaming the Jews and/or the Romans misses the most important truth of His death.

    November 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  9. Simran

    Ànd we believe the Pope bcoz???

    November 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Huebert

      He is old enough to be an eye witness.

      November 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Simran

      Yeah, I forgot – to the ped.ophiles!

      November 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • We listen to the Pope because he is...

      ...Hitler Youth!

      Sieg Hiel!

      December 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  10. joevidal

    In the year 325 AD, the council of Nicea formulated the concept of the Trinity, therefore devinifying Jesus and at that point, identifying him as the Son of God. Please read your history, which is quite interesting and if you really want to know more about the life of Jesus and the foundation of the Catholic church, read the history behind the Church.

    November 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  11. jmed

    remember wen jesus was compared to a murderer...the jews demanded execution. jus said they werent responsible too avoid another holacaust

    November 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  12. jmed

    Jews killed him. Pontious Pilate tried saving his life. Pontious Pilate ended up killn himself

    November 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Blind Archer

      Sources?

      November 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • John Fenner

      Pilate was a real person–a military governor. He appears in Luke's Gospel, in another light. Josephus wrote that Pilate would put his own, local troops into the crowd in civilian clothes, to see who was arguing loudest against Rome.
      Pilate condemned Jesus in a "show trial".
      Josephus also wrote how the Elite were willing to die over Pilate putting statues of the Emperor, into the Temple.
      It was impossible for these people to convict Jesus in a nighttime trial, over Passover, without credible witnesses, and with an instant verdict, UNLESS Jesus volunteered to be Pilate's victim.
      Once you entertain that thought, it ties up many of the loose ends of the Gospels' account.
      PS, Piilate was recalled by Rome, after about 8 years as governor.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  13. Rowie

    Jas_4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

    November 25, 2012 at 5:56 am |
  14. Leif

    Someone should alert Mel Gibson.

    November 25, 2012 at 4:25 am |
  15. william Brooks

    jewish people and the jewish religious leaders rejected jesus, hated him for exposing their false religious beliefs and empty traditions, accused him of sedition against the roman state, for propounding god's kingdom as man's only hope. the romans tried him, then hung him on a torture stake to die. the romans killed him.

    November 25, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • John Fenner

      Again,
      Pilate was a real person–a military governor. He appears in Luke's Gospel, in another light. Josephus wrote that Pilate would put his own, local troops into the crowd in civilian clothes, to see who was arguing loudest against Rome.
      Pilate condemned Jesus in a "show trial".
      Josephus also wrote how the Elite were willing to die over Pilate putting statues of the Emperor, into the Temple.
      It was impossible for these people to convict Jesus in a nighttime trial, over Passover, without credible witnesses, and with an instant verdict, UNLESS Jesus volunteered to be Pilate's victim.
      Once you entertain that thought, it ties up many of the loose ends of the Gospels' account.
      PS, Piilate was recalled by Rome, after about 8 years as governor.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Lindy

      We all kill Jesus Christ our Lord. Not one man, woman or child spoke up for his freedom. Jewish people had a chance to drop the charges against Jesus. Pilate was a friend to Jesus but very few people knows that. The Jewish priest wanted Jesus kill and out of the way. I have read horrible things that the Jews done to Jesus after he was taken off the cross. I read these things on the Jewish websites.

      December 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  16. Name*effiong oquong - nigeria

    What the pope knows now is what jehovah's witnesses knew many centuries ago. Bravo to true teaching.

    November 25, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Name*

      "Jehovah's Witnesses" was founded in the late 1800s - not centuries ago.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Kirsten

      The last time I checked, it was 2013. The 1800s would be 2 centuries ago...

      January 21, 2013 at 1:22 am |
  17. Joel Someillan

    I always enjoy seeing the Catholic church correcting its mistakes, trying to save face, and telling its followers "new" things that the rest of us already knew. They're an entertaining bunch, aren't they? LOL!

    November 25, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Leif

      Compared to the fundamentalist Christians in this country, the Catholic Church is forward-looking.

      November 25, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Lindy

      Not really!!!!!! The Catholic Church will be the first to be condemn when God return to the earth.

      December 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  18. RobertAllen

    Jesus came to die for all our sins. Therefore, blaming one group or the other is an exercise in futility as we are all guilty of his death. I put Jesus to death and so do you!

    November 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • End Religion

      Keep your guilt to yourself, pal. Jesus son of god never existed.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • The Deist

      There is plenty of evidence that Christ did exist. Whether he was the Messiah is in question.

      November 25, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • jmed

      So u essential believe that killing Jesus gave u "a get out of hell free card".

      November 26, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  19. was blind, but now I see

    This is some new revelation?

    November 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Lindy

      You might still be blind. Did you know that God threw Satan and one-third of his fallen angels down here to earth? Those angels are still active on earth.

      December 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  20. mark

    I never understood the anger towards the people or group responsible for Jesus' death. Sacrificing himself for man's sins was part of his plan, wasn't it? If so, somebody had to kill him or have him killed.

    November 24, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • was blind, but now I see

      The devil is working hard even (especially) within the church itself. If he can cause confusion and division, we are a lot easier for him to deal with.

      November 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Joel Someillan

      "was blind but now I see"...you believe in the devil? Really?

      November 25, 2012 at 1:22 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.