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. mtnmedic

    Religion is a cult and a crutch for evildoers. Plain and simple. The Bible and God's teachings are supposedly simple enough to show everyone the true answers. So why, after all these thousands of years, is even the existence of God himself such a big mystery that has yet to show a single shred of tangible, verifiable proof? Science isn't always correct, either, but at least in science you find some constructive proof and tests to confirm or debunk those proofs. Religion is always based on "Well, it HAS to be true because the Bible says so." Rubbish. With regard to Jesus' death, it definitely wan't the Jews who killed him. Geez. It was the government who was run by a different religion that didn't subscribe to the idea that Jesus was who he claimed himself to be. Religion has always been the #1 destroyer in this world for thousands of years. All of it is a cacophony of lies based on FEAR of imagined consequences, which has been used to subjugate the meek, those less educated and less informed ad well as the poor and the weak who are looking for something-ANYTHING-to lift their spirits out of despair. Simply put, religion is for the weak-minded and is the tool of evildoers to control them. How ironic.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  2. john

    does anybody like the jews?

    March 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      palestinians do. they're just playing hard-to-get.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • John

      Yes, other Jews.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  3. woodie

    Jesus was crucified for being 'king of the Jews' so it doesn't make sense Jews should feel blame. It was clearly a power struggle among the masses, the established church, and the Roman government. Jesus was martyred to the masses, including the Jews, and the masses were forgiven of all sins towards him in the moment.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  4. Quincy

    I guess when you are the head of the largest christian denomination you can change history and ignore that whole "bible" thing. Pretty soon he can do away with the whole "God" and "Jesus" thing and just make himself the holiest of holies. No wonder they refer to the flock as sheep. They follow these pious self serving charlatins inspite of the fact they are supposed to believe the bible is word of God and worship none before him.

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

      So are we to assume that you still choose to hold Jews responsible for killing Jesus, rather than the Romans? And tell me what happens to the core beliefs of Christian theology if Jesus had NOT died on the cross for your sins? There would be no Easter, no resurection, no ability to accept Jesus to absolve yourself from sin. Christianity would be an entirely different religion (and probably much closer to Judaism).

      March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  5. WanderingSpecter

    Hey guys...

    I thought the Christian pope was infallible... doesn't this mean that the issue is settled?? :-}

    March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  6. christopher

    The reasoning behind the crucifixition of jesus was it was a ransom sacrifice,adam and eve sinless human beings actually committed the first sin by listening to the great deceiver satan or al dajjaal in islam,because of that only a being without sin could actually be sacrificed to take away the guilt of the sins committed by humans,in short he was sacrficed because he was without sin .also muslims believe jesus was born of a virgin birth that he fullfilled the scriptures of being rhe messiah,and that instead of being crucified god (allah) saved him and jesus son of mary ascended into heaven to return only on the day of judgement.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      lay off the rock, it's frying your brain

      March 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  7. peter

    isnt that nice.after all the punishment you find us not guilty.isnt that nice

    March 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  8. Shaan

    If Jesus was god or Lord, why couldn't he protect himself from killing? I am not familiar with Bible so please don't mind.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • spocksaysfascinating

      someone slipped him some GHB.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • John

      He wasnt worried about being killed because he could come back to life again. My dad used to take his thumb off and put it back on again but as I got older I then realized it was just an illusion.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  9. spocksaysfascinating

    join me fellow zombies, as we feast on the corpse of jesus and drink his blood.
    wow, that's messed up.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  10. Prof.

    WE have this Pope under OUR thumb... ha, ha, ha..!! Anyone can be bought, or blackmailed..! Lol...

    March 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  11. John

    It's all myth taken for reality. We need to quit holding on to this subject and move forward. Jesus was written about hundreds of years after he existed, if he existed at all. Peoples accounts of happenings change rapidly let alone hundreded of years.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  12. Shelby Jenkin

    No no Im pretty sure it was OJ.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  13. Chuck

    I bet it was The Joker, or Green Goblin, or even Lex Luthor.

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

      it was the Penguin. he was jewish.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  14. elidude

    That this is news to/from the Pope is pathetic.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  15. Shelby Jenkin

    I know who did it(killed Jesus)
    It was OJ!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  16. 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 4:11 pm |
    • Zane

      Dude, you are an idiot! Jesus is what you get when you translate Yeshua (Joshua) from Hebrew/Aramaic.
      Jesus” (pronounced /ˈdʒiːzəs/) is a transliteration, occurring in a number of languages and based on the Latin Iesus, of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs), itself a Hellenisation of the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yĕhōšuă‘, Joshua) or Hebrew-Aramaic יֵשׁוּעַ (Yēšûă‘), meaning "Yahweh delivers (or rescues)".[37][38][39][40][41] The name Jesus appears to have been in use in Judaea at the time of the birth of Jesus.[42][41] And Philo's reference (Mutatione Nominum item 121) indicates that the etymology of Joshua was known outside Judaea at the time.[

      March 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  17. jane

    They didn't kill Jesus the Roman soldiers did.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  18. "the first and the last and besides me there is no other God"

    there was never ever a cross

    March 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  19. Truthwillsetyoufree

    I think it was the GOP that killed him, they certianly will if he comes back...

    March 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Michael Steele

      You are correct. It WAS the Republicans.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  20. Bobby

    I always thought the Romans killed Jesus..

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

      Correct. Rome became the seat of Catholicism a few centuries later so they were exonerated. Since Jews don't accept the teachings of Chritianity, they became the default target to blame.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
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