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. anonymous

    Jesus isnt real anyway.... as is god or any other religious figure. People wrote about people who could fly an possess powers "intelligence they didnt have" hundreds and thousands of years ago, these people weren't gods but another being from another planet that set foot on this earth and interacted and helped evolve our own people! if people cared as much about the world and the people in it instead of caring more about a made up god and what religious sect you belong to this world would be a hundred times better!!! I just hope we can prove of another intelligent life form on another planet so people can stop believing that they are the only human like creatures in the world and that this universe was created by some person like god, its just ridiculous none of it can be proven!! but wait science has proved evolution and church people still believe in creationism.....

    March 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • John

      So you say. Prove it! You can't, neither can I. Why do you bother to waste your time on something you don't believe?

      March 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Floyd

      Science has not proved evolution at all. After 100+ years, it is still called the "theory of evolution".
      Seems there are many so-called religious historians and world historians here on this blog that have yet to open a science book, or a religious book, or even their minds. Look around you. Look in the mirror. Get a telescope and look into the splendor that is out there. Something, someone created this wonderment. I hope science does keep discovering new things. It will only display the greater spectacle that is creation.
      Raised a Catholic, I was always taught by both my church and parents that Jews were not culprits at all in the death of Jesus. There was a divine purpose for his death. The Pope is merely making that loud and clear where the Catholic Church stands on the topic as the message has clearly been distorted out there. This is a good thing he is saying and writing about. Bringing unity to a world that is much divided is a good thing people. Cynics will obviously disagree, but they have their own complexes to clear up anyway. Take the olive branch and let’s be the brothers we really are.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      @Floyd There is no such thing as "proof" in science. Proofs only exist in mathematics. In science there are only theories, based on thousands, millions, billions of facts and pieces of evidence. In science, an idea is raised to the level of a scientific theory ONLY after it is shown to be consistent with every known fact, observation and piece of evidence. The moment a new fact is discovered that cannot be explained by a scientific theory, that theory is dead. It's that simple. The equation that describes gravitational force is A THEORY. For all intents and purposes it is immutable, and yet, it is a scientific theory. If something is still regarded as a scientific theory, to laymen like you who can't grasp the concept of a scientific theory, it is fact.

      At this point in the state of science, there are few theories better established than evolution. Not one single piece of evidence, among billions, has ever been found to disprove evolution. And THAT is a fact.

      March 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Floyd

      @Timetraveler. It sounds like you are still working on that theory so until it is fact, it will be a theory. Clearly you feel the need to insult as opposed to simply being nice and making your point. @Anonymous made the bold statement (and you are too) that science has proved evolution, but that simply is not a true statement. Science has developed a theory, albeit a sound one. The universe is expanding, we know this. Plants, animals and people continue to evolve. The world continues to evolve. Hopefully to the point where one day all people can be nice and not act like the apes you say we are. Something (I believe God), created this complex spectacle that continues to change and grow. Enjoy and wallow in its splendor. It is pretty cool...especially for scientists, but there is something bigger than you and I that started the Big Bang 'Theory'. Perhaps evolution and creation are interconnected. But that's just a 'theory'.

      March 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  2. Dcd

    I am an excellant driver....

    March 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm |

    Whew. Glad we cleared that up.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  4. Tom

    Follow the money! Who paid Judas?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • At the Source

      And who told Judas to do what he must do?

      March 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  5. Jane

    The Pope is right, the Jews used the Roman to Kill Jesus!!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  6. bobincr

    Jesus, is best described and understood, NOT in the Quran but in the Bible. The Quran denies the deity of Jesus and His atoning death on the cross for ALL of mankind's sins. The Quran undermines all that Jesus said about Himself and the Father.
    Jesus IS the one and only begotten Son of God. Islam denies this truth. This makes the Quran a false book not to be taken seriously.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Peace be Upon All - ah

      The Koran came much later, after it was recognized that other myths were used to embellish the newer myth, but being younger it may not still yet acknowledge the myths, from which God grew it from. Perhaps it does though as it claims to have respect for other people of the books. Myths are not lies, only our feebled minds attempts to comprehend the magnificent all (awe). We must all continue to grow in God whether perceived or not.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Dale Clemens

      Correct. We were warned against false prophets from the beginning. Mohammed was a fantasy derived to gain solidarity in the Arabian penisula so as to counteract the growing numbers of Christians in that region.

      November 26, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  7. John

    Jews were NOT even in charge religiously or by puppet government of Rome at the time of Jesus. Esau had finally broken Jacobs yoke from off his neck which Isaac promised him. Historical record and biblical record shows these were not "Jews", even Jesus said they were NOT children of Abraham. The Assyrians and Babylonians had previously intermingled nations. Herod the great and his sons were all Edomites from the line of Esau, so were the Sanhedrine and the religious rulers at the time. I doubt the pope has put all that together since he does not have a mind of his own to study the truth. Otherwise he would not be bowing down to statues of Mary.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • bane

      Biblical historical record? ha ha ha Thanks I need a good laugh today.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • John

      Historical record AND biblical record. Can you not read? Look up Harod the Great on Wikipedia dude, there you find historical sources. There are thousands of them. Read the Taylor Prism which was uncovered in Nineveh. That is also a HISTORCAL record.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Opie

      Herod was certainly an Idumean, yes. As to the population at large? Hard to say. Intermarriage is quite likely and the idea that the Jews come from a line of Biblical progenitors is well, mythology. These people identified with that religion along separate ethnic lines. Jews today envision themselves as some kind of "wandering people race" which is fine but this negates any claim to it being as such in perpetuity.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • John

      Read the Taylor Prism. The book of Isaiah and the Taylor prism speak of the same historical event from two different sides. Yes there was intermarriage by many, but many did not and DNA studies have been going on for years which show that there is still a line of many people who fled into the nations of the world after.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Horus

      Mary replaced my mom, Isis, and the resurrection was done by Dad Osiris, many, many years before with mom's help. The myths linger on, even cloaked in science and the manipulations of political power.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  8. Tyhouston

    So he puts it straight, heals a rift...

    And CNN rubs all his past mistakes in his nose to invalidate his efforts.
    Don't even try and be a good person kids. Only the bad guys run this world now.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  9. Time for truth

    The people who we have come to call jews today are not decended from the jews spoken of in the bible.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  10. bane

    To clarify a notion that has no base is useless! The only historical account of this event is from Josephus which has been widely known as being a fake. "Technically" can't happen as there are hundreds of translations of your book. In the KJV it states John 7:1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Wake Up!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Agreed but

      True and yet why has so much effort throughout the ages been made to understand the story that even the Muslims considered worthy of consideration? Is it logical that so many are idiots? Could there not have been some rational reason worth keeping that led to their survival? We know biologically and elsewise that the stupid do not survive, so what's the mystery?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  11. Louis

    It's amazing how many of you know so much more than the Pope himself about the history of Christ.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • From Above

      History requires all my view points. Not just one.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  12. Jon

    Thanks, Pope. We appreciate it.

    As the Chad Mitchell Trio said: "I haven't slept this well in two thousand years!"

    March 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  13. Joe in VA

    @ big tuna – have you contributed anything worthwhile to humankind lately? you (ma'am/sir) are an idiot.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Big .NET

      What is that fishy smell?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm |

    Pretty sure Christina Aguilera killed Jesus....

    March 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • ????

      Pretty sure Christina Aguilera killed Jesus....
      You are mistaken! She killed the National Anthem!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Nah

      Just her rep...the anthem is still alive and well.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Jim

      the anthem is alive and well just like Jessu =)

      March 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  15. kayaker247

    who cares? in other news, mel gibson is szaid to be furious!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  16. John

    How ironic: the Pope declares that Jews didnt kill Jesus, but the pope fails to mention that he killed Jews in Germany. Man, I am sure he got a lot cleared from his conscience on that declaration. I'll bet you there will be no more attacks on Jews by Christians anymore, huh? Thanks Pontif....you're da man!!!!

    Mazel Tov!!!!!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jon

      Hey, I'd be the first to admit that Benedict has his problems, and on top of that looks a bit too much like Emperor Palpatine for me to really feel comfortable with him. But he was ten, and he got press-ganged into the Hitler Youth. Not a whole lot he could've done to avoid that situation.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • bettejodux

      Sounds like you read Hitler's Pope, too. People tend to forget Hitler was a Christian. So was Mussolini. I am a columnist. A humanist. I live in hawaii on the island of Kauai. You might like my stuff. SUNDAY MEETING sounds like your style. Come visit me at http://bettejo.wordpress.com/ Scoll round and round, go up and down. Have fun. Peace and love Bettejo

      March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Jim


      there is a huge difference between a columnist (an opinator who might use some ac in a story) and a scholar or a journalist who is supposed to deal with fact – your post doesn't deal with truth. Neither Hitler or Mussolini were Xians anymore than Guadaffi is a Xian. When everything they do is counter to the basic tenets of a faith, their claims are hollow.

      Good to know there are columnists though. Just like the supposed phd in history that didn't know basic historical records from Roman historians of the late first/early 2nd century.

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

      what proof do you havethis man killed Jews in Germany...he was conscripted into the youth group by the Nazi's against his will and then escaped thats the fact you ignorant hateful person

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

      Romans 11:25
      1 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
      42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from Matthew 23:31-36
      31 Wherefore ye [the "scribes and Pharisees" ] be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
      32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
      33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
      34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
      35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
      36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation [progeny].

      March 3, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  17. Joshua Ludd

    So, remember who he is speaking to... christians... because no one else cares. Christians who christ taught to turn the other cheek... to love their enemy... to be loving and compassionate to all. So... why the need? Because they don't generally care to follow the lessons of their own messiah.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Beam

      So true and sad. I am a Christian...hate goes against the teachings of Christ. But people will use and abuse the bible to their own means...just like anything else. We all put Christ on the cross by our sins...we are all to blame actually. That is what the Pope should be pointing out. It doesn't matter who physically put Him there, because He forgave them anyway.

      Luke 23:34
      Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

      March 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Forgive Us

      Hopefully he metaphorically still feels that way today.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  18. Ruth

    He can't even tell the truth when he's trying to. Jews had nothing to do with the death of Jesus. It was all the Romans. But when the NT was cannonized they were trying to appease the Romans so they put in that it was the Jews. How many people have been massacered because of that lie? And they still won't refute it because it would mean admitting that the NT is incorrect. They have to preserve the lie at any cost.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Jim Jones

      Considering it never happened and it's all a sham, yeah you're right...he isn't telling the truth

      March 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • anonymous

      Booom!! jim jones' comment is exactly right!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Opie

      What a laugh. I suppose that the book of Acts is using hyperbole when it states that St. Stephen was killed for "insulting Moses and God". Jesus (sallahu aleyhi wa sellam) was killed according to the Bible for being AN APOSTATE and luring all of Israel into apostasy. The penalty at that time for the "crime" of apostasy was (and technically still is, how did Moses treat those who worshiped the golden calf?) death. The Romans did it at the request of the Sanhedrin, according to the Bible, they had no interest in doing him in.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • big tuna

      Everyone knows the hebes did it ~ I saw it on an episdode of One Step Beyond

      March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Opie

      Aside from that, what lie? The Romans, as a rule of thumb, were loathe to persecute people on the basis of their religious affiliation. Persecution of Jews in the Empire began purely because the "odd" monotheists refused to do something every polytheist thought natural: combine our gods with your gods. The Romans even went so far as to adopt Yahweh into their pantheon... religiously mandated intolerance began with monotheism. Romans had absolutely ZERO interest in killing that man. What would the reasoning be? Because he was accused of being a king instead of their Idumean (and therefore foreign) puppet king? Pontius Pilate took an extremely Roman view of the situation, indifference.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jim

      Between you, jj and ting, we have a trifecta of historically deficient posters. Roman history attests to Jesus being crucified under Pilate.... Tacitus AD 110-113 – Roman historian.

      The only thing that is fake, pretend or make believe is the posts by yourself and those who try to deny the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. Either that and you guys are ignorant of some basic first/early 2nd century history of the region.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  19. TO anthony

    S.H.U.T your mouth

    March 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  20. The Truth

    When in doubt, seek, research and ask. Jesus, peace upon him, is best described and understood in the Quran "Verily, the likeness of 'Îsa (jesus) before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: "Be!" – and he was.
    ( Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #59)
    Jesus (PUH) was described and mentioned more than 33 times in the Quran. Also, in the Quran there is one Chapter that is called "Mariam".
    Here is few examples;

    "And indeed, We gave Musa (Moses) the Book and followed him up with a succession of Messengers. And We gave 'Îsa (jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), clear signs and supported him with Ruh-ul-Qudus (Gabriel) .Is it that whenever there came to you a Messenger with what you yourselves desired not, you grew arrogant? Some you disbelieved and some you killed.
    ( Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #87)

    (Remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word ["Be!" – and he was! i.e. 'Îsa (jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary)] from Him, his name will be the Messiah 'Îsa (jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah."
    ( Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #45)

    And will make him [('Îsa (jesus)] a Messenger to the Children of Israel (saying): "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, a figure like that of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's Leave; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by Allah's Leave. And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you, if you believe.
    ( , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #49)
    O people of the Scripture (Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah 'Îsa (jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, ("Be!" – and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Ruh ) created by Him; so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: "Three (trinity)!" Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) One Ilah (God), glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs.
    ( سورة النساء , An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #171)

    March 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • doug klein

      Another religious lunatic on the loose.... Where are the men in white with the nets

      March 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jehu

      God's Love
      "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV).

      [Christ speaking] "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" [that it might be full and meaningful] (John 10:10).

      "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."(Romans 5:8).

      Christ died for our sins...He was buried...He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures...He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to to more than 500..." (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

      "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me."(John 14:6).

      "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).

      He was the "seed of a woman" - prophecy: Genesis 3:15 and fulfilled: Galatians 4:4.

      He was a descendent of Abraham - prophecy: Genesis 12:3 and fulfilled Matthew 1:1.

      He was from the tribe of Judah – prophecy: Genesis 49:10 and fulfilled: Luke 3:33.

      He was the heir to the throne of David – prophecy: Isaiah 9:7 and fulfilled Luke 1:32-33.

      His birth place in Bethlehem – prophecy: Micah 5:2 and fulfilled: John 1:2, Luke 2:4-5, 7.

      Born of a virgin – prophecy: Isaiah 7:14 and fulfilled: Luke 1:26-27, 30-31.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Opie

      The important point to mention about Jesus (sallahu aleyhi wa sellam) in the Qur'an is that Allah (subhana wa t'ala) specifically states that he did NOT die on the cross and therefore the Jews are exonerated from any deicide claims made by Christians.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Onepuff

      Why does it matter who killed him? It was so long ago, anyone who was to blame is now dead. Just take his teachings and move on, geez.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • W62

      Well written. There is only one God, the only creator of all that's in heavens & on the earth. That's ALLAH. Moses, Jesus, Mohammad & other prophets were merely messangers of one GOD. All humanity belongs to the one GOD & will return to him

      March 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • big tuna

      baby jesus had immaculate p00p ~ it did not smell !!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Nathan

      What you just stated is not the truth, rather a fabricated lie!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • From the beginning - that never happened

      W62 and all that creatin' and destrroying go on day in day out every second of the day and do not require a single point creation or a single point end. God eternal by all names exists all around you and within you.

      Poems are not scientific and when science tries to synchronize them with a Big bang theory, you only have to ask, but what came before that if all creation is just rearrangement of current existence.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Bill

      Gibberish from the mind of a religious nut.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.