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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. BCC

    So...let me get this straight....he apparently wanted to die to raise to the heavens....would this be no different than an emo kid committing suicide? Are dark thoughts such as self mutilation and suicide strictly against almost every religion? Does anyone else not see the contradiction here?

    March 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      no think of it like a father dying in a fire in order to save his children–he sacrifices his life to save others. That is not the equivalent to committing suicide/

      March 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • BCC

      I totally disagree with that.....a father would try to live to save his children...not try to die to save his children. He simply seems like he knew he was probably going to die and pushed it in that direction to further accomplish his goals.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • BCC

      Put it this way....if one had a cancer and went to Dr Kevorkian and said put me out of my misery, that would be frowned upon, correct? Seems to me like he found his Dr Kevorkian really.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      that's a matter of belief.....Jesus needed to die to take the sins of the world upon Him so that we would be able to be in the presence of God...and He DID live for us, because He rose again. He died for the sins, and rose again for us. Like I said, it's a matter of belief.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • BCC

      Why one would need to die to take the sins upon themselves is another large question, why not just repent? The option was there prior to Christ's birth and still exists. If it was because of all the sins prior to his birth...I guarantee that we have multiplied that a million times over since his death and we have had no being come forward to die again for all the sins from 2 centuries of build up.

      Just want to make sure that you are aware to that I am not trying incite anything, I do like debate and will not force my opinion on anyone either.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      actually prior to His sacrifice the way to heaven was only opened to the Jews, and in order for them to cleanse themselves of sin, they had to perform animal sacrifice. Jesus became the sacrifice and intermediary among the Jews and God, and Gentiles and God. He was the animal sacrifice, so to speak, for all eternity, so that all you had to do was pray for forgiveness from that point forward

      March 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  2. Christian

    This is why I pray for The Rapture every day of my life....

    March 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Daveeee

      The term "Rapture" doesn't appear in the Bible. What are you praying for?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      as a Christian I have to say I feel that is very wrong and selfish to pray for the rapture. I saw many other Christians who had those same feelings throughout my life, and it always struck me that you are hastening other people towards hell, not allowing them time to be saved, and also not valuing the life that God gave you.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  3. Seriously....

    Thank God! What a relief....

    March 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  4. Jerry Senzee

    You forgot me again.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  5. maloof

    Even if Jews killed Christ – can Christians turn the other cheek to forgive them. God does not need help from us mere mortals to run his business – His justice is slow but it is Perfect and Complete.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  6. Takali

    The Jews today are not responsible for the death of Jesus, just like the Germans of today are not responsible for the Holocaust. The son should not be held responsible for the sins of his father.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  7. JR1974

    STUPESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    March 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  8. Bozz

    Why do the atheists spend so much energy on these boards trying to disprove a " myth"?

    March 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Because the idea of such a large portion of the modern population believing in an illogical and destructive fairy tale is down right frightening. Nobody wants a repeat of the Dark Ages.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      Jackdaw you really think we are on the verge of a repeat of the Dark Ages? Are you being a bit hyperbolic? What do you care what we believe? People do all sorts of things every day based on their psychology, environment, genetics, etc. Worrying about the effect of religion on a person's actions is like focusing on the trees instead of the forest.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Christian

      Perhaps for the same reason Christians spend so much time believing in one...

      March 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      To Sockpuppet: I think if a tree is about to fall on my house, I address the issue. Given religions track record ie: crusades, inquisition, justification for every war ever fought, the fact that its used as a cudgel to mandate the ignorance of it's followers, yes, I would say it also needs to be tended to through serious discussion and realism.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      as I said, there are multiple factors to why people commit those crimes (politics being just one)

      March 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  9. Will

    Technically, we are all to blame for Christ's death. But it is because of His resurrection that we can all be saved. God knew Jesus would be denied among men. It was part of His plan of redemption for the unsaved.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      That entire statement is completely illogical. If repeating the words you have been raised with help you sleep at night, great, but there really isn't much meaning in them if you think about what you are using.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • ficheye

      I thought that Jesus WAS god. The church in in vast disarray on this issue of who he really was. But if the role of Jesus was to die for everyones sins, then the question of who killed him is really unimportant... because God made them do it. Right? He's all powerful, isn't he? And that was the prediction, even by Jesus, before his death, wasn't it?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  10. JD

    These guys are amazing. Naturally the Hitler Youth doesn't want to remind people about his past so he writes a book that's favorable to Jews. Of course, the Jews didn't kill Christ, duh.. It's just amazing that he has to highlight this. When are people going to wake up and realize that the church is political and interested only in holding onto power, not spreading the good news. After all, any reader of the Bible will recognize the passages that talk ill of those who profess faith and harm the young. That's more black and white than abortion or marriage in the Bible. For Catholics everywhere, there are options. It's called Protest-ants – it's okay, really, God wants you to find the right home for worship. God gave us the Word and the Devil gave us religion.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  11. Mary Toth

    As it has always been, the meaning of the Bible and the "words of Jesus" are being constantly changed to fit the needs and demands of the times. Like sheep, people blindly follow their "spiritual leaders" and never take the time to think for themselves. Why is it that people never questioned King James when he did a entire overhaul of the original Bible to include completely removing sections of the book and changing words to suit their needs of the time? This has happened throughout history, and will continue to happen as long as the sheep allow it to. The Bible was NOT written by God or Jesus, but by ordinary men who used their own interpretations. I cannot wait for the day that people get the chance to look inside the papal archives and see the truth about what has been hidden from them for hundreds years.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  12. bellus

    Jesus "gave up the ghost". The people involved in His crucifiction were indeed Jewish. They did not believe He was the messiah and still do not. As for His "murder", I've always understood He willingly died, ie, He gave up the ghost. Benedict, being the Pope, feels he can decree all these things and therefore make them truth. He cannot. He simply cannot change facts. I know the Church believes he is Christ's representative on earth, but Christ does not need a representative here or anywhere. He is already the authority, the Saviour, God's only Son.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Daveeee

      I couldn't agree more!

      March 2, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  13. CareJack

    Holy father you always amuses us. Pray for us sinners as you are the God'ss only representative. This is another moment of joy for us sinners. Your amazed wealth and holy clothes(that we cann't wear), are indeed a proof that you are holy. When you and your child molesters reach heaven pray for us sinners.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  14. Ice

    There are thousands of people killed in the world everyday and we are still stuck on who killed a guy 2000 years ago without even having a single proof if that guy even existed.
    More important subject would to discuss the civilians killed every day by terrorists, dictators, NATO and the US. I just read that NATO killed 14 kids in Afganistan collecting wood to heat their home!

    March 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Lilimarie

      I could not agree more with you Ice, for that matter, how many innocent people we Americans killed in Irak?......what about all the Native Indian Nations that were destroyed when America was "born"?, Hipatia, she was killed by a christian group commanded by a guy that today is worshiped as a "saint".......only because she had brains!!!!

      March 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  15. Ray

    I feel sockpuppet really knows the truth and he just doesn't want to admit it. He is a believer weather he knows it or not. That is why he keeps reading .

    March 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      haha I was being sarcastic Ray. I'm a Christian.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  16. erich555

    I thought it was predestined for Jesus to die for our sins. What if the Jews or the Romans hadn't killed Jesus? Wouldn't we all be condemned to hell for eternity?

    March 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Mary

      god forbid!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      We should thus be prating to jews for doing us a favor ? If they did not deal with the man(/god/50% man – 50% god/you see the pattern) and call it a day we would be accountable for our deeds which btw makes a lot more sense..

      March 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  17. Reality

    B16's book by necessity will be nothing more than a rehash of the conclusions of Father Raymond Brown and Luke Johnson and possibly NT Wright. B16 will not go "head-to-head" with the likes of:

    H.S. Reimarus
    R. Bultmann
    E. Kasemann
    Earl Doherty
    Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy
    Alvar Ellegård
    G. A. Wells
    Gregory Riley
    Robert Eisenman
    John Dominic Crossan
    Robert Funk
    Burton Mack
    Stephen J. Patterson
    Marcus Borg
    Stevan Davies
    Geza Vermes
    Richard Horsley
    Hyam Maccoby
    Gerd Theissen
    Bart Ehrman
    Paula Fredriksen
    Gerd Lüdemann
    John P. Meier
    E. P. Sanders
    Robert H. Stein
    Karen Armstrong
    Albert Schweitzer (The Quest for the Historical Jesus)
    Mahlon Smith
    Karen Pagels
    And members of the Jesus Seminar not noted above

    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/Works_Cited

    March 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  18. AaronS

    This is just political-correctness that has reached into the highest offices of the Catholic Church. To act as if the Jews were not a significant catalyst to the crucifixion of Jesus is to deny the scriptures. This DOES NOT MEAN that today's Jews are somehow collectively responsible–or even one iota responsible. It is simply to admit the truth of the matter.

    We know that not all Jews were involved. But we know that enough were involved to apparently sway Pilate to crucify Jesus. Certainly we shouldn't be holding present day Jews as in ANY WAY responsible for the death of Jesus (after all, the point is kind of moot, since He rose from the dead).

    At the same time, let's not act like everyone is equally responsible (except in a spiritual sense) for the death of Jesus. Certainly, Native Americans who lived in the as-yet undiscovered New World certainly had nothing to do with the death of Jesus. No doubt the rugged inhabitants of the British Isles had nothing to do with the death of Jesus. On and on we could go...until finally we either have to say that NO ONE was guilty...or SOME were.

    Certainly, the Romans, having the last word on the matter (at least in earthly terms) bear some responsibility. At the same time, the Jews certainly bear responsibility.

    Jesus' parables speak of how the Jews, though the king sent messengers, killed them all...and would eventually kill the son of the King.

    Stephen's sermon cut the listeners to the quick because He declared them guilty of killing Jesus.

    Yes, it was all part of a divine plan. But at the same time, let's just be honest and admit that the Jews and Romans were the doers of the dirty deed. Period. No need to be upset about it. No need to deny it. Rather what needs to be denied is that the Jews of today bear ANY responsibility for the death of Jesus. It's as ludicrous as blaming a German teenagers for the Holocaust...or some white American southerner for slavery. You get the idea. But just in terms of HISTORICAL FACT, yes, the Jews were involved in the death of Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • TommyTT

      Keep on reading. To blame all the Jews for the crucifixion is much like blaming all Americans for the way financiers brought down the economy.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • stejo

      @Tommy, more like blaming Whites of the antebellum South for perpetuating slavery in the antebellum south...oh wait...

      March 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  19. Reality

    B16's book by necessity will be nothing more than a rehash of the conclusions of Father Raymond Brown and Luke Johnson and possibly NT Wright. B16 will not go "head-to-head" with the likes of:
    H.S. Reimarus
    R. Bultmann
    E. Kasemann
    Earl Doherty
    Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy
    Alvar Ellegård
    G. A. Wells
    Gregory Riley
    Robert Eisenman
    John Dominic Crossan
    Robert Funk
    Burton Mack
    Stephen J. Patterson
    Marcus Borg
    Stevan Davies
    Geza Vermes
    Richard Horsley
    Hyam Maccoby
    Gerd Theissen
    Bart Ehrman
    Paula Fredriksen
    Gerd Lüdemann
    John P. Meier
    E. P. Sanders
    Robert H. Stein
    Karen Armstrong
    Albert Schweitzer (The Quest for the Historical Jesus)
    Mahlon Smith
    Karen Pagels
    And members of the Jesus Seminar not noted above

    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/Works_Cited

    March 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      And don't forget me.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  20. alani

    When Jesus was on the Cross, he asked God to, "Forgive them for they know not what the do!" He is not referring to any specific group, but all of those who stood by and allowed his murder. Why don't Christians persecute the Romans, who actually murdered Christ? This happened over 2500 years ago, and all of those who were responsible have faced Gods Judgment. Why do we insist on persecuting any group of people and all ourselves Christians? There is nothing Christ like about the hate, genocide, and suffering carried out in the name of God and Jesus Christ. I do not believe in collective persecution of any group, nor do I believe that any group should be referred to as the Chosen People. That term puts a target on that group and every member. If a member of any group commits a crime, they are personally responsible, bottom line. Christ has been put on the cross thousands of times since his death, during the inquisition, during the Salem Witch Trial, During the burning of Joan of Arc, during slavery, during the Holocaust..., " Let those who have eyes see, let those who have ears hear!"

    March 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Alan

      it did not happen 2500 years ago.

      and it was the jewish religious leaders who had him put to death. the romans were the ones who carried out the execution because they had the exclusive right to execute people.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • ChesterL

      Jesus died over 2500 years ago???? I thought it was just a little over 2000 years?

      Anyway, I agree with you though. The message of Jesus is simple: Love, Peace, and FORGIVENESS!!!! If people are still unforgiving about what happened over 2 thousand years ago, they obviously aren't really following his message......

      March 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      technically it's UNDER 2000 years ago, but that's just splitting hairs

      March 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Zane

      If it actually happened which I doubt, no one group is responsible for the crucifiction of Jesus. But it is political correctness to say that the Jewish temple priests had no part in it, at least according to the bible. If everything in the NT is true then there would be no legal reason for Pontus Pilate to put Jesus to death. There would only the political reason of keeping the Jewish leaders happy by putting to death a religious trouble maker.

      Does this in anyway blame the entire jewish faith? Hell no, just like I am not responsible for slavery because I am a white american. The whole debate is rather stupid.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • caveman

      You want to know the truth about the situation. Jesus was becoming a powerful man regardless of his own awareness of it. He was gaining power by aquiring more and more followers and the Jewish Sanhedrin became aware of this and were seemingly threatened by it. So, in my opinion, they're fear of his growth in power instigated his persecution. They themselves couldn't execute Jesus, so they did everything they could to manipulate the Romans into doing it and "upholding" the law. To me.. it was a power struggle and Jesus lost. He said "they know not what they do", but.. in fact, they know what they did, but those who did it are long gone and now it's a history tale. This is 2011... not 2000 B.C. We need to get over our ancient "out-dated" priorities and get with the program. Try to promote free energy and provide food to the starving of the world because Jesus is not alive, and we need to do the best we can to fill his shoes regardless of what religion you are... because surviving is a religion all it's own.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Zane – "Hell no, just like I am not responsible for slavery because I am a white american" Not to play you know whos advocate on the belief blog, but actually its possible you and your family did benefit from slavery over the years and thus may at least owe it some acknowledgement as to where you as a "white american" are today.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
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