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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. spocksaysfascinating

    why would a jeweler kill jesus? did jesus owe him money?

    March 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  2. Stevelb1

    Seems like he killed himself right? It was a suicide mission. If you are God, then you have the power to shoot lightning out of your finger tips at the soldiers or create a tornado or something, anything but to go on the cross. If you can save your own life and prevent your own death then its suicide. He had the power do to this. So why blame any man for killing a divine being? How does a God die? Makes no sense.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  3. edmundburkeson

    No! But the Jews did reject him as their Messiah.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • a jew...

      and why should we accept him? We don't want to , and you nor anyone can force into believing. just like we respect your religion , you should respect ours.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  4. RWESTUPID

    Benny's kissin everybody's ass so the world will forget about the pedophiles that his cabal of charlatans has protected for centuries. Nobody's buyin it, Benny!

    March 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  5. nancy

    Hey people, forget about religion for a minute. Historicaly speaking, hundreds of people were being crucified in that time. (for what we now call treason ) Alos,if someone claimed to be God or God's son it was a THREAT to Caesar, who obviosly was a Roman. Caeser was considered a god ! The Jews were concerned about this because they may loose their favor in the Roman's eyes. The High Priests held high and wealthy positions. They could not risk losing that position. The Romans only tolerated the Jews. The jews wanted Jesus out of the way, but couldn't kill him on the eve of the Sabbath. Alos, Jesus saying he was God's son was blasphemous, which was punishable by death. So, it seems both are responsible to me.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      exactly. technically, jews didn't kill jesus. but they did put the hit out on him.
      jesus sleeps with the fishes. perhaps the same ones he multiplied.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  6. a jew...

    So...... What do you expect us to respond? We forgive? We don't. We will never forget 2000 years of torment, we will never forget your cruel treatment of the Jews, not the pogroms, and not the inquisition . But most of all we will not forget that an entire Christian Europe stood silent. You don't deserve to be a pope, you were a German soldier in WWII !!! You can say you are sorry , you can say that you were wrong , you can say that you were forced into the German army....... but we will never forgive , for 6 million that died in the Holocaust and many more in the Christian inquisitions and pogroms. Nice try!

    March 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Lighten up, Francis.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • nico

      And how many Christians died at the hands of the Bolsheviks? Or the early Christians killed by Jews and Romans? Get over it.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • BroNate

      Surely there's some merit to an admission once and for all that centuries of persecution were rooted in a stupid argument over who has the better imaginary friend.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      I really don't expect you to say anything. I have never been party to that belief. If you insist on visiting the sins of the Father then I will turn away from you....

      March 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Sean Russell

    I'm sure Jewish people all around the world are going to sleep soundly tonight, without the guilt or shame of this guy's death on their head's.
    The only reason the church started blaming the Jews for this was to turn them into scapegoats and steal their money, and kill them in inquisitions. Is the church going to now take responsibility for all the Jews murdered for being wrongly accused as christ killers? Will the pope and the rest of the hierarchy stand trial for their murders? Considering all the punishment meted out to Jews because they,supposedly, killed one guy; I would say there is a lot of punishment due for trying to wipe out an entire race of people.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  8. JayW

    Hmmm.. Jews not responsible for Jesus's death?? ohhh..I have a suggestion. Lets blame brown people...Arabs & Muslims...lol

    March 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  9. Jackson Percey Smith

    The jews are no more responsible for killing Jesus than I am responsible for slavery

    March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • NEOhio

      So it was YOU! Quick, get the NAACP!

      March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • yalesouth

      The issue with slavery is that it created a racial caste system from which, if you are a certain race, you tend to benefit, while I do not. We know that, for example, wealth tends to be concetrate and past down from generation to generation and that there is a high degree of corrleation between parent's educaiotn attainment and tha to their children. This makes sense because educated well heeled parents are more likely to appreciate the value of education, know how to naviagte the system, and have the means to ensure that their children get the best possible educaiton. Now, we are only one generation or so from segregated schools, which are a by-product of the racial caste system that followed slavery. So even in the last generation, blks had far fewer opportunties for educaitonal attainment. I am not trying to really make the case for reparations, because I frankly do not think it would do much good for blks or for us as a nation, but, you oversimplfy things to say that, on average, a person's race does not confer benefit. College admissions perhaps is an excellent example. Elite schools often have so many slots reserved for legacy admits, fo rthose who are related to or connected to influential alumni, what race do you think they tend to be? College is expensive, so to the extent that there is a contiung socio-economic gap in this counrty(which has persisted since slavery), don't you think that effects our ability to achieve parity?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  10. louis

    I blame Lindsay Lohan.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      poor Lindsay-she's got enough to deal with lol

      March 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  11. GetSerious

    Please, all you true believers. I have no problem with you worshiping your imaginary friends, unless you decide that your beliefs give you the right to tell me how to worship, whom to worship, whether to worship and how I choose to lead my life. When it gets to that point, we're going to have a problem.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      i worship Elmo.
      but he makes me do some really, really bad things.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • aaron in texas

      who is bothering you with what you believe, i personally could care less whether you go to hell or not.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      Frankly I could care less what you believe..... You at least admitted that it is your choice .... which is far more than most do in this blog. They are beligerent to the max.... The one thing I would ask of you is to leave the denigrating language out of the statement...... When you use it you sound like all the rest.....

      March 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  12. God

    This news makes me want to punch babies.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      seriously. if anyone deserves to be punched, it is babies.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Just make certain they're Jewish babies.

      Side note: I love how the text above the edit box reads, "Leave a Reply to God"

      March 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  13. Thorbecke

    It's just about as relevant as wondering if the top keeps spinning or not.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  14. Byrd

    The Romans killed Jesus just as the fundamentalist Republicans are killing America. I guess that history does sometimes repeat itself.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      actually I prefer to think of it more as the Christian right being the equivalent of the Pharicees

      March 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      Just had to bring politics into it didn't you .... anything to please YOURSELF and YOUR agenda!

      Christian Right, Pharacies???? Believe what you want ... I will still laugh at you.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  15. marco polo

    The Pope does not know his BIBLE very well, does he? Then again, they really don't read GOD'S WORD at all, do they? Talk about a religious illiterate!!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  16. avis

    somehow Jesus died and so he came back from Heaven and became god and started christian religion.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Bambam

      I like pants.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      i like sandals.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      Not what I was taught .... which comic book did you get that from???? He rose from the deat (did not come back from heaven ... at least not yet) He founded his church on Peter before he died ... .so Peter was the foundation and all progressed from there. Sandals, pants whatever are as meaningless as your post.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  17. Louis

    Devout Christians throughout history have tortured and killed countless innocent victims in the name of Jesus Christ–I'd like to hear all of you believers explain that fact.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      ok you first explain that Americans were once slave-owners and then you have to pay reparations too. I mean what do you want, for me to explain the actions of people I never knew, and be accountable for them too?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      they were all acting on greed and power. i'm no believer, but someone had to answer.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • TJ

      They were wrong.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • BigChainRing

      You could use that line for almost any group:

      Devout throughout history have tortured and killed countless innocent victims in the name of

      There are evil people in every group.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • BigChainRing

      You could use that line for almost any group:

      Devout {pick a group} throughout history have tortured and killed countless innocent victims in the name of {pick a group/person}

      There are evil people in every group.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • DE Steve

      what you say is true on the surface. SOME people who called themselves Christians did blindly follow and obey orders of religious and political leaders who were motivated by power, greed and hate. These followers were persuaded that their actions were the will of GOD as described to them by those filthy leaders who will face their sins at the judgement. Believe it or not most of those performing those terrible acts had never seen nor read the bible for themselves and didn't know that Jesus himself didnt want the gospel spread through violent means (remember how he healed the soldiers ear after Peter's militant action and rebuked him).

      March 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  18. Fred

    Jesus was a Jewish man. How can anyone worship Jesus but hate his people. Go figure!

    To all of the Israel and Jewish People haters on this blog. We love the Jewish people and
    pray for Israel. Did you forget that your God was a Jewish man? Also you have the Salk
    Polio Vaccine in your body. Salk was a Jewish doctor. If you still dislike Jewish people please
    do not listen or sing White Christmas, Easter Parade and the patriotic song God Bless America as they
    were written by Irving Berlin a Jewish composer.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • james

      Well said, sir... Well said.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • HuggyBear

      Thank you, Fred.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  19. jim

    I don't know why people make a big deal out of Jews killing Jesus.
    Jesus' whole reason for coming into the world was to die for the people, as a sacrificial lamb.
    The whole thing was preordained by God.
    Jews are still blinded to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah.
    But in the End Times they will know and believe in him.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • aaron in texas

      amen

      March 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      wow, i got to get some of what you're smoking

      March 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Alexandra

      Thank you! As a Christian myself, I have often wondered how people can attribute Jesus' death (and thus lay blame) to any group of people. His reason for living was to save us through his sacrifice. Without his death, Christians would have no salvation. I find that for many religion tends to spread hypocrisy that impedes real faith.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • HuggyBear

      It's not a fact but a belief.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      Hey Spock.... Vulcans don't smoke..... do yourself a favor and take a look at the parable of the vineyard owner.... Looks a lot like the death of the prophets (servants) and finally the death of the son.....

      March 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Skound

      @spocksaysfascinating: Read a Bible before you comment. Jim is absolutely right.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      sorry, i don't like fiction. i prefer to learn.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  20. Bubba10

    So it was the Romans (Italians) that are to blame...oh, and the hierarchy of the church at the time...

    March 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Frank

      The Romans are not hte same people as modern Italians. So no, the Italians aren't to blame.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Why don’t we just blame all politicians and be done with it?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Just Sayin

      There really was not a Church at that time ..... Granted Peter was the rock.... but that really did not pick until after the death of Christ.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Skound

      No, Bubba . The church didn't exist at the time. Anyone can pick up a bible for themselves and read what happened. I don't know why the Pope feels he needs to shed light on what is clearly stated.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Lindsay

      Bubba10, there was no church at the time...

      The church was birthed after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
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