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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. tedT

    I believe Benedict XVI like John Paul 11 is of Jewish blood. The Bible (word of God) states that the Jews shouted
    "CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM". No one has the right to change the word of God, including the Pope.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  2. cyg

    Funny that Christianity didn't even really exist until you let a roman tell you it did.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  3. Dee

    Well I'm sure all 8 million of them were holding their breath for that one.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  4. wowlfie

    Religion is a virus on mankind.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  5. Gayle in Reality

    Can't trust them. No way. Don't get near them. They rewrote the New Testament. You can not be more of a bi-polar religion than bigots for organized crime. They will still say that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The truth can set you free but believing in Cinderella or a Star Wars universe doesn't make it real.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  6. wowlfie

    who cares since it's all just a bunch of baloney all religions are fake and run by power mongering priests who abuse kids and kill and opress the free. Religion rules by 'a fear scheme' much like a ponzi scheme. They instill fear in the non-believing if you don't join you will go to hell, your soul lost for eternity, etc.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  7. jd

    The Bible says it was the Roman empire that killed Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  8. Nate

    EVERYONE knows that it was dinosaurs that killed jesus. That the dinosaurs were jewish does not enter into it.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  9. Derick

    More breathtakingly stupid coverage and the necessary comments that follow about a desert witch that noone should be caring about in the year 2011. All three of the major monotheistic desert cults should go back to the desert from whence their beliefs originated and kill each other there.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  10. thelord

    Who killed santa claus?

    March 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  11. Brian

    This is not new. This has been argued ad infinitum for two thousand years. The Pope is just trying to open this can of worms for his own political expediency. Maybe this is to divert attention from the story yesterday about the American Bishop who concealed pedophile priests for many decades.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Yeah, the catholick officialdom have been running interference for their pedophile priests for a very long time. Not surprising to see this latest instance.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  12. Floyd

    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 6:19 pm |
    • Felicitations

      Best comment all day.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • stacey

      The jew is a rat and should be gassed

      March 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  13. galliano

    God sent Hitler to wipe the jew of the face of this earth because the jew killed his only son. look it up!

    March 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Dee

      where?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Paul

      God was that angry...after almost 2000 years? (And BTW, he failed)

      March 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Felicitations

      Galliano? Really? As in the anti-semite Galliano? Whoever you are, you aren't all that clever.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Paul

      God was that angry...after 2000 years? And failed?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • sarah

      It makes sence

      March 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • kim

      paul, yes his masterpiece was cut short, but there will be another Hilter

      March 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Please. The people that destroyed the Christian religion were the Romans who ran the Orthodox Church which became the Catholic Church. Back then there were Christians that were against the false believes put on them my false Christianity. Everything from those groups were destroyed. All the ancient books were destroyed so the Romans could control people through religion. Let's examine what religion should not be. It isn't supposed to be for demigods, zealots, crime lords, evil people, racists, and the mafia. But it is. Christianity got distorted from the beginning. The Romans had a vision of making big money off of people naive enough and gullible enough to believe in false miracles. There never has been an actual miracle on this planet made by a god, goddess, ghost, speaking in tongues vampire, Mormon church fairy tale writer, or Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, the Hindu gurus, and the werewolves. No ancient books near the Roman Empire survived because the Romans covered their track and burned or destroyed all the evidence. They wasted our literary history, and it was a story, Moses was a fictional character which was a rip off of stories from Greece, and Egypt. The Resurrection story had been told for hundreds of years before Jesus. Down to the letter. Everything in the New Testament was a rewrite from Greek myth and others. Christians that were against the Roman Catholic's Orthodox version of the Christian church outnumbered the Romans. They believed that God was a good God. Not the terrible stories of a corrupt and bad God in the fictional stories of the Old Hebrew Bible.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  15. PeterVN

    It was the butler, in the dining room, with the candlestick.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  16. Gex

    The Bible is clear that Jews had a hand in the killing of Christ. The were the ones who brought his "declarations of being king" to the attention of the Romans. Romans executed the action of Killing, the Bible is clear about that also. But maybe the most important point to make here is that Jesus came knowing that he had to die for what He believed, he had a mission, and dying for those whom He loved (Humanity) was part of the plan... So was he really "killed" technically yes, but when you take into account that He gave Himself... then He was not quite "killed".

    I find it sad that the Catholic church is trying to compromise truth in order to play politics. That has always yielded negative results for the faith. Now, Jews may have had a role in the killing of Christ... just like Romans did. And the point is? We don't think more or less of them because of that. It's just plain Historical fact. Now if Christ would have not meant to die for His people, maybe this would be a different story and they could be villanized... but Christ, and God had clear intentions; Jews, Romans, Pilate, Herod... They were all tools which ultimately, in a weird way helped achieve His bigger plan of saving you and me.

    You may believe Christ was dellusional and bent on self destruction, or you may actually believe in Him and that He was sent from God... That context can't be taken away from this story because that's really where the root of whose to "blame" lies. Either you think He was crazy and carved His own demise through His actions, or you Believe the Bible and understand that God sent Him to die for us... Knowing those two possibilities who would you blame, Jews, Romans? The point here is that arguing about Jews or Romans killing him or not is a minuscule, very stupid and irrelevant thing to get tangled up with.... The bigger point is that, NO ONE can be villanized for what happened, He intended for it to happen.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Felicitations

      God did not send Jesus to die. He sent Jesus to live and to teach us how to live. In doing so, he was martyred.

      Just as God knows in advance what man will do does not mean that man is programmed by God to behave a certain way. God gave us free will. We are not robots and Jesus was not a robot. He, too, had free will.

      For instance, God knows that a man will murder. He gave the man free will. He did not program the man to be a murderer but because he is God, he knows in advance that the man, with his God-given free will, will choose to murder.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Felicitations

      A continuation ... Jesus was martyred for his teachings, for what he was teaching about love and sin, and because he came to teach us we can say that he died for us.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Dee

      It really shouldn't matter whether or not any particular Jews at that time had a hand in his killing as they are not even here anymore. Or maybe we are saying the same thing.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  17. Catholic

    I am Catholic and frustrated when I see the leader of my church still not getting it. The pope needs to learn to stop reinventing the wheel and simply stick to the story in the bible and stop compromising. Its clear that many Rabbi's wanted Jesus killed for blasphemy. This is the accusation they brought before Pontius Pilot because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Under Roman law, only Rome could carry out capital punishment. So the Rabbis accused him of treason against Ceaser given Jesus' claims as the Messiah (therefore King of the Jews). This is why Pontius Pilot asked Jesus the question. Are you a king? Jesus answered yes and explained his kingdom was not of this world. Pilot pleaded with Jesus stating he had the power to free him....Jesus corrected him and said he had no power over him except for it was the will of the Father. We know the rest of the story.........Conclusion: A large enough portion of the Jews condemned Jesus to die as they picked a criminal over Jesus to be released (not all Jews of course as the first Christians were Jews)....the Gentiles (represented by Pontius Pilot) was also guilty because he did not want a revolt on his hands and to have to deal with Ceasar, so instead of doing the right thing, he worried about his political career and gave the dirty work to the Jews to make the choice. So the moral of the story....and this should have been the pope's answer (I am embarrassed as a Catholic that the pope did not figure this out): We are "all" guilty. The entire world is guilty. The bible makes it clear.."For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son to die on the cross for us while we were still sinners". This is why we call Jesus the Lamb of God. It is God's gift to reconcile mankind to himself. There is no other way. If you think you can buy your way to heaven...GOOD LUCK! God is the savior.....you can not save yourself. My last comment to the pope (my confused leader)....please give up your seat at the united nations....we have no business being there as the bible also makes it clear that the current king of this world is satan himself and he gives his power to the nations...and this is what happens when you hang around satan's club...you begin to compromise the truth in order to be politically correct. And this is what the pope his doing with his statements...being politically correct. Instead he should be speaking the truth and quote the bible instead of rewriting history.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Peter Live!, San Antonio, TX

      Have you actually READ the passages you claim to understand so well, in fact BETTER than a man who has been a theologian for some 70 years of his life?

      And to you, you Muslim in Catholic clothing (trust me, we don't need you, but we will take you if you ask) its "Holy Father," or "His Holiness,"....

      Dude.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • sarah

      the pope is too busy molesting alter boys

      March 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • LookAndSEE

      I commend you, my friend. Pray to Jesus for LIGHT. Visit www. amazingfacts.org, http://www.bibleuniverse.com
      Don't stop now. You are moving in a forward direction.
      The key is LOVE.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Tom

      Well said. I too am appalled that the Pope felt that he needed to do this. The bible is clear and yes we are all culpable in His death.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • dennis

      whay are you catholic and know so much, get out wjile you can

      March 2, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  18. Dan J

    But but but...Mel Gibson TOLD us they did it! Saint Mel CAN'T be wrong, can he??

    March 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  19. sadworld

    Why is he rewriting the bible? Again. The Catholics keep changing thing to suit them. Now he wants to be friends with the Jews so he is rewriting the bible to say different. You miss the point here. The most important thing is not just His death. It is the death,burial, and resurrection. But most of all is He died for our sins and rose up from the dead. He is no longer on the cross. The Catholics always show Him crucified. Pope get a clue dude.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Peter Live!, San Antonio, TX

      Sad, you are nothing more than a bigot in sheep's clothing. It seems prejudice against Roman Catholics is the ONLY real prejudice left.

      Why not spritz a few of your comments – inane as they are – on various Church doors?

      And, by the way, that's "His Holiness," or "The Holy Father," to you.

      Dude.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • sadworld

      Peter...not in this lie time dude...Only one Father...that is GOD read the Bible fool. The pope is not going to save you from hell only by Jesus to you get that honor....

      March 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Dee

      Well he was crucified, wasn't he? What is the problem with that?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Felicitations

      Jesus is portrayed on the cross to illustrate for us the sacrifice He made.

      Why do you ridicule that?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  20. LookAndSEE

    In essence We all are guilty of His death. The Bible says that He died for the whole world. See John 3:16.
    As far as Rome is concerned, this is 1 step toward Judaism embracing Catholicism.
    Most protestant Churches have already embraced her in their teachings.
    Islam is waiting for prophecy to be fulfilled. Then the world will follow the beast. See Revelation 13

    March 2, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Doven

      Im not guilty for his death no one alive is because no one was alive for his death 2000+ years ago, so how can we all be guilty killing Jesus.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Good point Doven. On a related note, the Christians seem to have a weird need to feel guilty and ashamed.

      LookAndSEE, the bible also says a lot of other stuff that is also nonsense. Have a read here:
      skepticsannotatedbible dot com/contra/by_name.html
      Amazing that anyone thinks the bible is a credible reference.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Lester Bangs

      Actually, the whole guilt thing and the obsession with Jesus' death came from Paul, who definitely turned Christianity into something dark and guilt-ridden and domineering. Jesus himself never said that his death would be important. That's all the perversion that Paul inflicted on it.

      Modern Christians tend to follow Paul's theology for more often than Jesus' philosophies. It really should be called Paulianity and not Christianity.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
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