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. Jeebs

    FYI – Jews didn't kill Jesus because he didn't exist.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  2. fuyuko

    The jewish leaders were instrumental in getting jesus executed, but the romans carried out the punishment. But who really cares? Happened thousands of years ago.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  3. Steve

    I thought Jesus came back from the dead anyway, so who cares?

    March 2, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  4. Mary Ann

    It amazes me how people keep on about priests molesting children when it has happened in EVERY religion, and sadly, continues to this day....

    Your statement, what kind of people are "they", "they" are human just like you and I – if you knew you would be killed if you helped, would you still do it? It is so easy to point fingers, plus you do not know the atmosphere back then and if no Jews were helped at all.


    March 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  5. scotchy

    Look at that photo. He's about to pounce.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  6. Mary K

    I want to make sure I understand this concept, I pass around an empty plate, no food, no sustenance whatsoever! As this plate passes in front of you, you place money into it and praise God. This money goes into my pocket and is free and clear of any and all taxes, all taxes! No state tax, no federal tax, no sales tax, NO TAX! I need to open a church...

    March 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  7. Jack Paulden

    I guess ChristChurch scared him!

    March 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  8. prophet

    Up until now all Bibles have been translated by gentiles for religions, there is now A Translation by A Jew who Translated accurately the original Writings and When Yeshua Messiah came He bought the priesthood as we knew it to an end and there would be no more priests until Our Saviour Comes and chooses them.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • will

      Yes, I must agree with you about this. We have poisoned what the Messiah taught us, we have destroyed his teachings and replaced them with our own. What a time it will be when all of the so called "Christians" have to stand at the Judgement Seat and explain the things that they distorted or twisted to fit their agenda, or will the be allowed to say, "It was taken out of context". "Christianity" supported slavery, the massacre of the Native American and looked the other way during the Holocuast. What Would Jesus Do Indeed. Would he be labeled a Socialist or Communist?

      March 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  9. gorehound

    and still the church has not given us the world war 2 records and probably never will.
    apology comes to late for me.i lost around 80% of my dad's side to the hell of auschwitz.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  10. LoveAnd Peace

    The Beatles are bigger than Jesus

    March 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  11. LoveAnd Peace

    Wrong Beth....we all know that the Romans killed Jesus....and Neb, the Jews read from the Old Testament, so it is impossible for the Jews/Hebrews to accept Jesus and their Lord and Savior.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  12. frank

    Yea, we know the romans killed jesus but it was becausejesus in the romans eyes he was going to ruin the stability of rome

    March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  13. coder

    well....its about time for a new prophet and a new god.... Seems every couple of thousand years, a new god, a new prophet and a new amazing story sprouts wings and takes flight.....

    March 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • 2 ears 1 mouth

      Tell me what story came before Jesus?

      March 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • LandofOz

      Hinduism was founded around 1500 B.C.E., Judaism 1400 B.C.E., Zoroastrianism which can be traced to writings in 1300-1400 B.C.E., Jainism and Buddhism are both from around the 5th century B.C.E. Jesus came around the 1st century B.C.E. or even 1st century C.E. Modern Islam is rooted around 5th-6th C.E. The world has had many come along after this as well.

      You should look up all the backgrounds on these religions. They are all very similar stories to that of Jesus.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • AKchic

      2 ears 1 mouth – What came before Easa (Jesus)?

      How about King Solomon? David? Abraham? Isaiah the Prophet in whom they felt was reborn in John the Baptist.

      Jesus was never meant to be worshipped as a deity. It was thought that he was meant to take the throne as a direct descendent of King Solomon, of the Davidic bloodlines. All of this "son of God" crap came about thanks to some fanatical worshippers who weren't in his circle during his lifetime and the Romans (especially the Council of Nicea) who did some fancy PR and publicity spinning to turn things around to make themselves look good, erase a few things and ta-da, start us on the path to what we have now.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  14. brent

    Yeah yeah but will the NFL owners lock out the players association? another news flash, Jesus was not a blue eyed white boy...now that is hard to come to terms with.

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


    March 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  16. prophet

    Yeshua Messiah is The Gift to All Humanity and if you don;t believe this then ask Him and if you are genuine

    March 2, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  17. S. Studenberg

    The son of God knew in advance everything that was going to happen, since it was preordained by his Father. Not only did he know that he was going to die on the cross, but he also knew about all the betrayals. He also NEVER asked Peter to build his church in Rome. That part is the story told by Romans, after they realised what they had done. The council of Nicae fixed everything in such a way that the Romans would not be the ones blamed. Of all the Apostols, Judas was the only one who rally understood the message Jesus was delivering. Jesus told him about the job he had to do (the betrayal), Judas did as it was foretold, but was not strong and killed himself. I am sure he never wanted all the killing in his name to take place.

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

      *sigh* Too bad when we try to explain any of that to the fanatical worshippers, they deny it and insist that the bible is the truth. Explaining that the bible is a heavily edited text, that was approved by the Council of Nicea with the express purpose of putting them in a better light and keeping them, the Romans, from looking too bad; well... we hear "it was all according to God's plan" and "it was divinely inspired".
      Blind faith is just that – blind. Some of us have to take up Boudicca's famous line and hold it dear. "The truth against the world". Maybe some day, the truth will be known for what it is. That time is slow in returning, ye ken?

      March 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  18. Marichuy


    March 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  19. CT

    Jews didn't kill Jesus, Guns did.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  20. Chris

    They should worry more about the pedophiles they seem to advocate and young boys that have been abused for centuries on end. They should all be castrated to have priesthood put and end to that. That is of far more concern than who killed Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
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