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. Boognish

    Does no one remember that Pontius Pilot was a Roman? Romans killed 'jesus,' Romans adopted Catholicism, Roman civilization fell.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Luch

      western civilization, which used to be called Christendom, adopted Catholicsm and it prospered, western cvilization has truned its back on Catholicsm/Christianity and is in irreversible decline

      March 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  2. Lynne

    I believe it was the Romans that crucified Jesus as they did everyone who dissented against Roman rule in Israel at the time. He was a trouble maker that they wanted out of the way.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  3. MASS4Change

    Jesus is Jewish of course. The poor Jews were his followers. The wealthy elite high priests were threatened by his popularity and his stance on social issues so they devised his execution. They worked until they found actions that the Romans considered crimes. The Romans built the cross and pounded the nails, but the blood of Christ is on the elite of the time.

    It would happen even quicker in our time.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  4. John Smith

    Regardless of who killed Jesus, the Jews have control over Christians, -at least in America. The Jews control the Financial Industry (Ben Bernanke has more power to give secret loans to GoldmanSachs than Obama does). The Jews control the media, public television/radio. And AIPAC, the Jewish lobby bribes congress to pass 100+ pro-Israeli laws every year. So, forget the past, the present situation is that American Christians are controlled by Jews. Europeans were smarter and kicked them out a long time ago.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • DJ

      Your ignorance is appalling.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • paula


      March 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  5. Robert

    so, based on what is stated in this article, the Pope is essentially telling everyone that how everyone has been interpretting the Bible for the past 1,500 years (estimated) is wrong and ever since "he" decided so, that his interpretation is right. This doesn't sound like more revisionist history in progress now does it?

    March 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Billy

      The Pope is infallable. I need a gig like that.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Billy

      I am clearly not infallible.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  6. a nazi

    Hitler was sent to kill the jews because the jews killed jesus. It's in the scriptures.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • B

      I'm pretty sure the scriptures say nothing about Hitler. The only thing that does is your sick thoughts.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Luch


      March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  7. Steve Kennedy

    The most important person in religion today in America is Mr. Dean Schoenewald..He uncovered the largest Christian fraud ever, which continues today. It is not pleasant, which I suppopse is the reason CNN has yet to cover the story. Read his book, and listen to his radio show at wwwFearandDenial.com

    March 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  8. Scott

    Jesus sacrifice Himself. He did this so ALL PEOPLE may accept Him as Christ. No one is too blame for His death; it was foretold in Genesis and multiple times through the Old and New Testament.

    Jesus was the second Adam and His purpose was to undue what Adam did which cause Mankind to fall into a sinful world. Now that Jesus is in Heaven at God's side, we can all accept Him as the Savior and go to Heaven. The only sin that is not forgiveable is to not accept Christ as your Savior because one you die, it is too late. You must do it while you are alive. You cannot press the "A" button and respawn. It does not matter what you've done or who you are; God will forgive you through Christ.

    Why on earth folks keep harping on the poor Jews is beyond me and they must be the most patient people in the world considering what they've gone through. Leave 'em alone already. Move on.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  9. ProjectZ

    By the way. Evolution is a fact not a theory. Dinosaurs did exist contrary to 55% of the American people do not believe they did. We have a lot of religious wackos in the world and some live right here.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  10. jayh

    Blah blah blah blah blah –

    March 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  11. Luch

    "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." – fact he did not welcome this bishop back into the Church, he opened a dialogue with the group that this Bishop belongs to, the Society of St. Pius X, to this day there is still an ongoing dialogue with the society ( read not this bishop,as he has been reprimanded by the same society)
    "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" fact- this great Pope of the wartime era did a lot through the Church by ordering that monasteries and convents open their orders to house Jews during the war and by ofeering his perosnal summer residence to house Jews, as a matter of record his own bedroom was used as room where Jewish mothers gave birth to Jewish babies..for those interested in the truth you can check them out by googling "pave the way foundation" which is run a Jewish man. The chief rabbi of Rome at the time was so impressed with work of the Pope Pius XII, that he later converted to Catholicsm. This same Pope was alo lauded in later years by the Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meier.

    The current Pope, Benedict, does NOT have a difficult relationship with Jews. Like his predecessor, John Paul, he views as "our elder brothers in the faith", for our Christian faith comes form the Jews.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Moishe Rabinowitz

    My GOD, what is going on here?? It was the Theocracy that put Jesus to death. not the "Jews". It's like saying that because Iran is a Muslim state the "Muslims" went to war with Israel all those years ago. it was the GOVERNMENT that went to war.
    It was the GOVERNMENT that executed Jesus. It was jewish state yes, but the jews were oppressed by Herod almost as much as they were by the Romans. They had no say in what went down politically.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • M.Delroba

      I agree %100,
      As an Iranian ....

      March 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Shariq

      I absolutely agree with you as well. Jews did not kill Jesus, Christians did not cause the holocaust, and Muslims did not bring down the twin towers. However, in these and most other instances religion was used a tool to incite people to violence. Nothing, like religion, can cause take people to take crazy, illogical and often violent actions. Racial bigotry comes second, but not a close one.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  13. KentAZ

    Ironically, Benedict and his ilk–the leaders of the nominal Christian orthodoxy–are the modern day counterparts to the Jewish religious leaders of the 1st century (the orthodoxy of that place and time).

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

      "Brood of vipers" is the term Jesus used.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  14. prophet

    so is Mr Ratzinger going to give the proceeds from his books to the poor, or sell the Vatican and its buildings to give the money to help the poor just as the Very Master that they say they believe in asks them to do

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

      unlike most authors all the money form all the books this man ever wiitten, i think this is his 15th, go to the poor...what have you done lately

      March 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Kristal

    as sergeant friday said (facts just the facts)

    March 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  16. Skound

    If anyone wants to know, read a bible. We don't need this guy. The bible is very clear on this subject.

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

      so is a comic book. both are equally complete fiction.

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

      The Bible also clearly states that the kingdom of God would occur in the original Apostles' lifetime. Guess he was wrong. Is that CLEAR as well, or do you have a follow-up?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • DJ

      Hey "spocksaysfascinating", I did not realize that monkeys could read.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Skound

      Spock, history proves the bible. I will give you this,though. It takes a lot of digging. But everything is accounted for.

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

      in your case, you parents spared you the difficulty of reading your own name, didn't they "DJ"?

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

      Byrd, Jesus was referring to John being given the revelation.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  17. mattmchugh

    Who is ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus?

    God, of course. Look it up, folks.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      give em the chair!!!!

      March 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      No no no..you got iot wrong

      let me explain, according to christianity

      jesus = god = jesus

      jesus dies = god dies

      god kills = jesus kills

      god killed jesus = jesus killed arrrghhh!

      wait! let me start over

      March 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  18. Kristal

    i am catholic and like to believe in the hereafter but facts are elusive to say the least ? God is myth jesus is fact ' humans are story tellers and I would love for God to destroy child molesters' murderers' rapists' but the facts are that this is never going to happen' what God of any creed or culture would allow for such barbaric standards ' i'm afraid that such a myth is just that myth but I still want to believe i have to believe but facts are facts.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Robert


      There's a simple answer to your question of "how can a just God allow ... to happen?" Simply put, the greatest gift we were given by God is our free will – it's what separates us from the animals (and in some cases makes us worse than them!) by this logic, then for God to step in and stop something takes away our free will. God doesn't cause or allow child molesters any more than you or I do – no more than your parents would make you a child molester or a murderer. He simply honors his gift to us of free will. Hope that helps in some way?

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

      If god where to destroy child molesters, he would wipe out the catholic church

      March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Shariq

      You stated: "God doesn't cause or allow child molesters any more than you or I do – no more than your parents would make you a child molester or a murderer. "

      I am having a hard time understanding your logic. I am a Muslim, but our concepts of God are not that different (you may disagree, but that's besides the point). We as parents may try to shape our childrens' future by raising them the best we can. However, nature can take it's own course with them and despite our best hopes and efforts, we really don't know how and where will they end up. Do you not believe that God is all knowing and creator of it all? If so, and if what we consider life is a test all planned and executed by Him, then how is He not responsible. Let's say that if I knew that my neighbor was molesting children in his basement, and I did nothing about it, then would you not hold me responsible?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Shariq

      My response was for Robert.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • pala

      sharig you are correct!! the catholic church know that priest are molesting childen therfor the catholic church is responcible

      March 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  19. Byrd

    Why so many of you out here display such passion for religion, but could care less about your fellow man, is a mystery to me.

    So good luck with that redemption thing. I have a strange feeling that you're really going to need it.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Skound

      YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!! Sorry. Didn't mean to yell. But you took the words right out of my mouth! Christians today are lacking. Big time!

      March 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  20. JANE





    March 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Dover

      Why are you shouting?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Dur

      So the Flemish and the Polish are like Flem and Pol (respectively)? No. Besides, your rant doesn't make much sense anyway.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
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