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. Rocky Balboa

    The Jews didn't kill Jesus. The Russians did

    March 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  2. Frank in NJ

    It bothers me that the head of the Catholic church can not tell the truth about who killed Jesus. This is meant for anyone who follows Christianity, perhaps as a believer of another faith or none, you will see what the truth behind Jesus' death is. No your excellency, the Jews did not kill Jesus, neither did the Romans. Anyone who follows Christianity is to blame for Jesus' death. He had to die, so that the punishment for sin would be fulfilled. He died because I needed Him to. To ever be reunited with God. To cast the dispersion of His death on anyone other than myself and God's plan shows an utter lack of understanding. OR would someone who believed that Jesus who created all things, WAS GOD, could actually be held on a cross and killed by humans if it was not God's will? I am a bit disappointed that an explanation could have been given, an explanation that would fly in the face of anyone trying to use the Lord's death for antisemitism was not given.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  3. The Dude

    The Poop is right. Jesus was a mythical figure.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  4. prophet

    when are people going to realise that Our Saviour is not jesus, He Is Yeshua Messiah and this was His Name when He was Born and it still is and nowhere in The Bible does It Say that He changed His name to jesus. Yeshua is The Name Given to Our Saviour by Our Good God and the reason is that Yeshua in Hebrew means to save and it not only means it but does it as well and jesus the name was given by the antisemitic Greeks of the time who were given the Temple in Jersusalem by the Romans in approx 75 AD and so the Greeks began the name change and jesus as a name is meaningless and the Greek for save is soter so you have to ask yourself who are the gentiles praying to.

    joseph ratzinger, as his advisors are also, very misled and misinformed people and to go against the very doctrines that apparantly the catholics and christians live by is as Yeshua Messiah Said – they are hypocrites and to add it was the pharisees who did what they did to Our Saviour and the catholics etc are todays pharisees.

    They all want the power, this was with the tower of Babel, Believeing people built the tower to appease God but they wanted God to their will and this is what Christianity is all about. They admire God but want Him to do what they want.

    The name jesus christ has been used for many an evil purpose and man began this name not Our God and In The Name of Yeshua Mashiah we find The Love that was originally given to us but tried to remain hidden by many a Christian and this is why the Catholics have so many child abusers and perverts because they are not doing what they are really meant to be doing which is genuinely Believeing In Our God/

    March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  5. nogalito

    my house is cold right now

    March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      i know a place that is warm all the time. let's go. fire good.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  6. susansocal

    It doesn't matter what the Pope says. It matters what the Bible says.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Billy

      So, it only matters what Roman Emperor Constantine I said?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  7. clum

    Was it not part of God's plan that his only son should die so that his children could enter the kingdom of heaven through the sacrifice of his only child? Does not God have a hand in all earthly matters and we can not begin to understand his master plan? Why blame a people that were but a part of God's master plan? God and Jesus are not about hatred.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      these negative questions are always tricky. ok, let me concentrate:
      ok, my answer is : yes, it was not "god's" plan.
      did i pass?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  8. Kenny Blair

    All of mankind (myself included) is collectivlly responsiable for the death of Jesus Christ. His life was not "taken" by some one or some group. He laid down his own life willingly for the sins of mankind.

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

      I don't sin ,so I am not to blame for something that may or may not have happened 2000 years ago

      March 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Billy

      The churches have been teaching for well over a thousand years that Jesus sacrificed himself. If you want to believe that he did so, you have to stop blaming everyone else, as it was his divine choice to die. It is an inherent contradiction that has been peddled by the church leaders since the First Council of Nicaea.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  9. Reynolds

    My KJB is clear that the Jews were responsible for His death.

    "His blood be upon us" is clearly an assumption of collective guilt.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Middle America

      Please read "Where Were Love and Mercy?" by Clarence Wagner. He answers all these questions of blood guilt

      March 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Middle America

      Yet is was Romans that nailed Him to the cross. The few Jews that were present can not call down curse on all their generations.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • ProjectZ

      Your a Neo Nazi right?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • John

      I dont care what anybody says .. the Pope included. I'll just trust in the Lord, believe everything in the King James Version of the Holy Bible & leave it at that.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  10. Middle America

    I think ALL Christians no matter what denomination you cling to ought to have mercy on each other as Christ has mercy on you. Sure we may not all agree on certain points of doctrine, but we all hold the truth of Christs death and resurrection and his redeeming grace. Lets all rest in peace with each other on these terms. And also be merciful to Jews because they are still chosen of God. All biblical promises regarding Israel and Jews are still valid to Jews and Israel. Christians did not “replace” the Jews as heirs of the promises. We Christian’s are only wild olive branches grafted in to the natural olive tree of Israel.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  11. WanderingSpecter

    See... I told ya they didn't do it!!

    March 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  12. Middle America

    Where Were Love and Mercy? by Clarence Wagner. This book covers that whole thing of blood guilt. I highly recommend reading it.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  13. Kristal

    does it really matter who or what culture murdered jesus ? all any1 knows as fact is that the culprit was human case closed .

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

      i heard it was Col. Mustard, in the cave, with a burning bush.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  14. mat

    And CNN has opened the hate lines again.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  15. priest

    How many children have been molested by the catholic church?

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

      all of them. directly or figuratively.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  16. Lisa

    This is ridiculous. Isn't it part of the biblical prophecy surrounding the coming of the Christ that he would be rejected and persecuted by his own people? Offered up and betrayed? As a Christian, I am offended by this, this kind of pandering to wordly concerns has no place in religious doctrine, let alone an opinion expressed by the Pope of all people. It is a matter of fact, Pontus Pilot gave the decision over to the Jews, and they did indeed send Jesus to execution.

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

      Well as a good Christian, shouldn't you forgive them.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • xyx25

      As a Christian, we should know, you and me are responsible for Christ death on Cross. Our sins are layed on him.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  17. Charles

    So Popemeister, if the Pharisees weren't causing riots becuase the Romans refused to punish Jesus, you think they would have killed Him just for fun? Kill a Jew in a Jewish province without cause, hmmm... probably not the best idea BUT if the Jews WANT Him to die, INSIST He is killed or they'll riot- no, you're right, had nothing to do with it. Bozo.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  18. SeanNJ

    If it wasn't the Jews, it would have to be the Romans. The Romans of then are the Italians of now, and where does Vatican City sit?

    Precisely. It was an inside job.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  19. yoyoma

    Pope = Poop

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


      March 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  20. ChrisInNC

    He became the first pope to visit the main Roman synagogue since 1986? Huh? You mean he was the first pope to do so since his immediate predecessor?

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

      That's funny! LOL

      March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Billy

      Watch it! You're screwing up the spin.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • James M

      Everyone......listen.....this is the most important thing you have ever read.......Every human is responsible for killing Jesus. Jesus was God's gift to us. He loved the world so much, God sent his son to us, and he lived among us. Also, the main point, Jesus gave his life up on the cross so every person who believes in him will be sanctified thru GRACE and TRUTH. Human sin is responsible for death.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @James M: That's ridiculous.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
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