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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. warren smith

    omg
    what is this world comming to
    every time some oh whatever i will continue trusting in the lord
    and do whAT I KNOW TO DO THATS RIGHT

    March 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  2. Susan

    I am a christian, and i seriously don't care what the Pope has to say. I don't need a Pope, priest, Mary, idols or a rosary to get to heaven. All i need is our lord JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  3. The all potent one

    If nobody killed Jesus than he wouldn't be able to rise and prove he was god's son. Maybe they should be getting thanks instead of grief. Of course that would result in more peace and less persecution so the curch couldn't have that. All religons claim to be peaceful (unless you don't beleive in their god then watch out)

    March 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  4. mnmcv1

    Glad that's cleared up.

    now, does he know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa?

    March 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  5. David

    People, read the Bible. First of all, it was prophesied that Jesus was to be killed. Secondly, Christianity was founded by Jews themselves. So why all the hysteria against the Jews? By the way, most who call themselves Jews nowadays are really saying they follow or believe the Jewish religion. Being a Jew nowadays is not an ethnicity but a religion. There has been too many interracial mixing during the centuries that it's impossible to say it's a race now.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Well then let me ask this since the Jews do not recognize Jesus Christ as their savior today then why are THEY automatically forgiven and destined to heaven? This is a huge contradiction in the bible on one hand you have to accept Jesus Christ as your savior but on the other the children of Abraham (the Jews) are forgiven and get a free pass....what a scam!! Everyone who understands politics knows that this was a power play by the Jews during the Nicean council to clear themselves of any wrong doing. All you believers should really see how much MEN and Politics and Predjudices actually influenced the Bible it'self not to mention every word written in it. Claim if you want it was divine inspiration but you are then living in denial of human history and nature.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • David Johnson

      "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

      Also Jesus predicted Judas would betray Him. If god/Jesus is omniscient, then Judas was destined to betray Christ. Judas was blameless.

      Free Will does not exist.

      Cheers!

      March 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  6. TonyfromNB

    We all killed JC...then & now. Time to stop pointing fingers, time to forget the past, and build the future.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  7. Amalia Sheran Sharm

    What a flip-flopper.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  8. ComeAgainBaltoMD

    The Pope, the pope, the pope, the pope . . . . does anyone really care what the pope thinks?

    March 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  9. Bob Ramos

    It really does not much matter who "killed" Jesus. His manner of death and trials were told by the phropets(?) centuries earlier.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  10. Get a Grip

    All these comments are amusing, really.... The only ones that make any sense is that God reveals himself and spiritual truth through all of the great religions... no religion has any special claim to "the truth" All religions have part of the truth but none have all of it... Oh, and by the way, if Jesus really didn't want to die, he wouldn't have.... Remember all of his miracles??? Disappearing from harm's way was certainly one of them... Part of his life's purpose was to die in a very public way, to perpetuate his message for centuries to come, which has been done. Nobody in particular killed Jesus, it was his will, his choice, which was always one of his most important messages to mankind.."as man thinketh, so is he"..... as true today as it was when he spoke it..

    March 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  11. Me

    I killed Jesus. He died in my place. End of discussion.

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

      good 4 u! how did u do it?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  12. Mike

    wao it took that long to find that out, well done pope, Can you also tell us who kill MLK, may be you can also enlighten us about WMD as well since you can solve all the mysteries of the universe...I am tuned in ...........

    March 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  13. Sybaris

    Why is this even an issue?

    Wasn't it your gods plan?

    March 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Good one!!! Zinnnnng!

      March 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  14. lucky

    i don't mind if you hate as long as you are willing to live in a world where you, personally, take responsibility for keeping hate alive in the world of your family, your friends, your loved ones. if that is you, then say it: I hate and I believe hate is a good thing to do. Most of you won't say this or even want this. In order to get rid of your hate and especially the hate you inherited from your family, your church, your culture, you will have to take another responsibility: to get educated. the pope is encouraging you to do that. take the hint!! and your world, your family, you children's future, will be better.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Truth

      So why only jews are deserved this love? ..why not muslims who are really under bad image from media and politicians ..

      March 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Blacktooth Grin

      Hey Lucky...

      I believe hate CAN be a good thing. Such as hating being preached to. I really do hate that. And I take responsibility for that hate.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Carl

      @Truth: Muslims don't have a bad image because of politicians and media. They have a bad image because far too many of them actually do bad things! Don't you read the news – suicide bombings all over the world, rockets, shootings, hateful sermons at hundreds of mosques, hate-filled textbooks and children's' TV, etc. etc.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  15. TonyInNYC

    II've tended to think it was the Romans who killed Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  16. dennis

    Well, all you have to do is read the bible and you will see who was initially responsible for the death of Jesus. Be that as it may, we all have a part to play in the crucifixion, because we all need a Savior. I am totally amazed why anyone would listen to the pope. ie church of the pedophiles

    March 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  17. Truth

    ohh ..so muslims killed Jesus ..right?

    March 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Tom

      No, they are just trying to kill everyone else.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Mamulya

      What's more important – who killed Jesus 2000 years ago, or how many millions were killed in the name of Jesus around the world in the last 2000 years?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  18. Jewish

    HEY YOU! your religion killed my religious figure! Because of this i will hate you and work to harm you and your family. YAY LOGIC!!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Exactly bravo!!

      March 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  19. prophet

    the monastry at Melk in Austria had built behind it by the gestapo a concentration camp and my uncle and many others were in it and it was put there so the allies would not bomb it and yet not one Catholic clergy went to them to help them, what type of people are they, we only have to look at the Catholic clergy to see this.

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

      Same kind of people who look the other way when little boys were being molested. Same kind of people would look the other way when people of a rival religion were systematically executed. Virtuous, pious people.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • B

      What did you expect them to do? Go in with guns blazing and try and take out the camp? Realistically, what could they have done to help? I'm terribly sorry for what your family suffered as I'm sure the people in the monastery you're referring to were as well. But I think people need to be realistic about this. Yes, the Pope should have been more vocal about condemning Hitler and his practices. But even if he had been, do you really believe it would have made one bit of a difference? It is compelety illogical to believe Pope Pius XII could have done anything to save the Jews from Hitler. Hitler was putting Catholic Clergy in concentration camps as well (St. Maximilian anyone?). And The Priester-Block (priests barracks) in the Dachau concentration camp alone lists 2,600 Roman Catholic priests. So if Hitler didn't care how the Pope felt about putting Catholic Priests in concentration camps, why would you think the Pope's condemnation of the treatment of Jews would have made a difference?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  20. WanderingSpecter

    >
    >> does anybody like the jews?
    >
    Hey sicko... some of my best friends are Jews...

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

      I hate the jews

      March 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
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