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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. Beth

    Its very clear in the Gospels of John that the Jews did kill Jesus in the refutation of G-Ds love...that's the difference between a Jew and a Christian, love

    March 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Beth: It is very clear that the Gospel of John and the rest of the New Testament contradict each other. If you believe in the John's version then it means that you DO NOT believe that Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers at the Olive Mount; that He was tried and convicted to death by Pontius Pilat; that He was crucified by the Roman soldiers following Pilat's order. If so WHO arrested, tried, convicted and crucified Jesus, in your opinion? The Jews?

      March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Beth: "...that's the difference between a Jew and a Christian, love...

      I see. It seems that you blame the Jews for the death of one Jew who was arrested, tried, convicted and executed almost 2000 years ago by the Romans. If so, are you, as a "loving Christian" willing to accept responsibility for the death of SIX MILLION JEWS murdered less than 65 years ago by your fellow Christians?

      March 2, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  2. Thinker23

    The fact that the Jews did not kill Jesus was known for thousands of years. According to the New Testament, the one and only source of information about Jesus Christ, He was arrested, tried, convicted and executed BY THE ROMANS. Not by Jews.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  3. MandoZink

    Isn't everything "god's plan"? I would have to say he planned it. Suicide by proxy. Funny guy, he was.

    "Hey Abe! If you really love me then kill your son. There you go now. Ready, set.. NO! WAIT! Hah! I was kidding! Just wanted to see if you would do it!"

    I used to be religious until I read those stories in the bible. I thank the thinking, evolving brain for science and reason. We CAN all learn to love one another if we learn to think logically.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  4. Apryl

    IT doesn't make sense. If they believe Jesus had to die to save them from sin, so by their own believe system they should thank the Jews for killing him and saving their souls.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Mike

      By "they" do you mean Christians....Christians don't thank anyone for Jesus's death except God. The salvation part comes in believing that Christ is who He said He was....

      March 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  5. Mike

    OK folks, back to the basics. Even if you or I were the only person on earth, our sin would have condemned Christ...it is each of us jew or gentile.......black, white, asian etc. Point is He did die for each of us and Jesus was God's ultimate gift to mankind.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  6. clos

    @vwgtiman ...first, I'm atheist. But the above was well said. Even with my atheism I see lots of believers contradicting each other and the above should be common sense for most of them. The way i see it.. I dont believe, but if your goign to believe, heck, at least get the interpretations right. Again..well put.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mike

      clos, agreed and I don't agree with atheism as I am a Christian. I respect other's but it is sad when they have nothing to support their faith in whatever they believe or do not have the conviction to stand up for what they believe.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  7. jubilee shine

    i thought it was the italians who called the shots.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  8. IamGOD

    First they need to prove that the Jesus as described in the Gospels actually lived...

    March 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • YoJoe

      "Those who seek power and obtain it, are afraid to lose it. Even the Jedi." Supream Chancelor Palpatine

      March 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  9. dan

    thae TRUTH of the matter is that there is no god, no devil, no heaven, no hell, no angles no demons & a thing called a soul does not exist.

    WAKE UP TO THE FACTS!

    CHECK OUT THE FREEDOM FROM RELIGIION FOUNDATION!

    March 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Mike

      really....well then what would you attribute your existance to?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Starman

      Mike: My existence comes from my fathers sperm and my mothers egg and the combination of their DNA. We know this as fact and is proven time and time again by scientific methods (and lots of people practicing). Although... 100 years ago... religious people did claim that man planted a little man in a women and GOD made it grow into a child (it was even in medical books). But we've moved on from that.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  10. Ken

    I think it was the Italians who actually killed him, fitting that Vatican City is in Rome.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • jubilee shine

      exactly

      March 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  11. 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 4:46 pm |
  12. IamGOD

    There is zero evidence outside of the gospels that Jesus actually lived... lol So how could anyone have killed him, if it is not proved that the Jesus as described in the Gospels did exist... lol!!

    March 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  13. Andrew

    How do you know all religions have part of "the truth"? Or "truth"? That seems to first assume you know what "truth" is and what const-tutes it (fix that comment filter, look for whitespaces!), how can you know religions contain truth if you cannot verify them?

    I tend to side on the "evidence first, belief second" motto, then "truth" is irrelevant, I'd only deal in evidence and not pretend to make comments on "truth"

    March 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  14. Brad Ono

    I am jewish, but I didn't kill Jesus!?!??!??

    March 2, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      So they're saying now. Between you, me and the wailing wall, I still think you did it.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  15. robert

    no human being, nor group of people, norcounty, nor king, no one kill Jesus.
    Jesus gave up His life voluntarily so all those who believe He is the Son of God whose
    blood washes away the sins of His children.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • IamGOD

      Prove that he ever lived..

      March 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Thedude123

      Prove that I ate breakfast on Thursday of last week. I know I did, but I don't think any could prove it. Demanding proof is not the same thing as seeking the truth about a situation.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  16. Neb

    Jesus died as a sacrifice so that all mankind can be cleansed of sin and reconciled with God. The fact that a few Jewish clergy in Jerusalem had him crucified isn't really important. What is important is for Hebrews world-wide (along with all other people groups) to come to Jesus and know him as Lord and Savior. Jesus wept for Jerusalem and the Hebrews because so many of them rejected him and refused the free gift of God's grace.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Starman

      I'd like you to stop and actually think about how friggen silly this whole goofy made up fair tail is. No really.. give me one second of open mindedness to think about this whole "Jesus died for our sins" thing... just 1... then you can return to your bubble.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • MCR

      I weep for your inability to accept the fact that a lot of us are very happy not having Jesus in our lives, and people like you trying to convert us are the reason you see such hatred towards religion from secular people. Let us believe what we want, if you truly believed in Christianity you wouldn't need to make the rest of us follow it too.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  17. JiminNM

    There is the remnant of Jews spoken of in the Bible, and then there are the false Jews (Revelation 2:9). Be careful not to be deceived by the false Jews. Each of us has the responsibility to search for the truth and take appropriate action, as John F. Kennedy and some others have attempted to do.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  18. LoveAnd Peace

    Finally!! The Jews are not to be blamed for Christ's crucifixtion....it is widely known that the Romans had felt extremely threatened by the growing following of Christ and at the same time, the Jews were trying to save themselves by the Romans "bullyness". The Romans killed Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • C

      That is partially correct; however it was the Sanhedrin or Jewish judicial body headed by Caiaphas who brought the charge 's against Jesus before Pontius Pilate. it is well known that the Sanhedrin was not popular among the masses of the Jewish population; but they did have influence among some of them. I agree that it is historically incorrect to blame all Jews for Jesus' crucifixtion; at the same time it cannot be discounted that many of them did. The most important part of the story is often misinterpreted or ignored- Jesus forgave his enemies; and no one has the right to persecute them regardless of whether or not they believe in HIM.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  19. Allie

    When will the fairie tales end?

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

      never, people love them

      March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Gop

      I agree it will never end, as long as people keep believing in a book that seems to be interpreted by billions of people that cannot agree on any one ignorant Religion!

      March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  20. vwgtiman

    If people knew ANYTHING or BELIEVE in God, you would know that Jesus was supposed to die on the cross. What difference does it make WHO killed him? Jesus died on the cross for ALL OUR SINS. So when ignorant people want to hate jews because they think jews killed Jesus is just uneducated to the bible and its usually white people who blames everyone for everything but wont take responsibility for their own idiocricies. How about stop teaching your kids hate and blaming everyone for things that you know nothing about, only what you hear. Grab a bible and read. White people, learn to love and accept people for who they are instead of trying to mentally segragrate every race when we are all the same. BTW, grow up.

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

      "So when ignorant people".. ignorant are those who believe in stories that have zero evidence.. like the one about Jesus...

      March 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • micmorri

      All religions are stories taken way out of context. There is no god, only science. Jesus was just the Houdini of the ancient world performing miraculous-like magic tricks, not the messiah. Muhammad was just a merchant/warlord that saw an opportunity to gather an army by claiming he was receiving messages from god. Believing in these fairy tails is like believing Zeus is the god of gods, or that Odin is the chief god, or any other old story that was once believed to be true. Stop kidding yourselves! There is no god. When we die we rot and return the organic materials of our being to be used by other organisms of earth. We dont have a soul. When we die the lights are out, thats it, no heaven, hell, or purgatory. Have a brain people!

      March 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • poodie

      Funny you should say that. You think you know it all? Hmmm......

      Jesus didn't die on a cross. He was impaled on a "torture steak" which is a pole, not a cross. His hands were nailed together above his head and both his feet below. Do some research on Roman execution. Wood in this area was too precious a commodity to use twice as much of it just to make a cross for an execution.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Gop

      @vwgtiman

      I have to agree with your point that Jesus was supposed to die on the cross. Now I must say I am an atheist but I have read the bible and understand that there was no one person to blame for something that was meant to happen. I don't believe any of this, but I understand many do. but I take it you must be a Bigot to make this lame remark that White people wont take responsibility for their own ******* I'll use the term Actions if you don't mind. Race or color has nothing to do with people not accepting blame for their actions. it is just something that some people do but not all. you seem to be a bit more uneducated then the people you speak out about. before you start throwing stones at others,maybe you should look into your own yard.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • ScottK

      "If people knew ANYTHING or BELIEVE in God, you would know that Jesus was supposed to die on the cross."

      So you are saying that mankinds existence is just one prewritten script from an outrageous reallity TV show where mankinds perfection was proffered then stripped away in spectacular fashion then redeemed by the dark hero rising from amongst the womb of a "virgin" to satisfy himself of his own sentance to death by their predictable unruly behaviour.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • MCR

      I believe that his point was simply to say that if you were really a Christian believer, you'd know that Jesus was to die on that cross for man's sins whether the people around him had wanted it to happen or not, it was simply his destiny.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
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