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. Dickenson

    Its nobody's fault. Kumbaya time!

    March 2, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  2. Abe

    If Jesus was God then why did Jesus say....

    "God, Oh God, Why has thou forsaken me?"

    Thought he was God.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Pumbaa

      Maybe he was just talking to himself. The Bible does say that there is more than one god. The people were always getting caught passing thru the fire or building a golden cafe.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • chelseykia

      Because the moment before Jesus died, He essentially had every single filth belonging to humankind etched all over his body – God could not look at this. For a moment, God looked away from His only son – this is how big the sacrifice is. Yes, it tore the veil of heaven into two and destroyed the wall that separated God from people, purchasing them back when Adam gave them away, but never assume that Jesus's death wasn't painful for both God and Jesus himself.

      No mind can comprehend God's sovereign and why things happen – if one can't understand the depth and meaning of Jesus's sacrifice, there will be no way anyone can even hope to figure out God's ways of doing things. Just this :

      Isaiah 55:8-9 : “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. "

      March 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • PeterVN

      chelseykia, that's quite the pathetic god that you've got there. It's clearly not omnipotent, and it even has a weak stomach.

      Well, try again, maybe with a different god fable. Your first try wasn't convincing.

      March 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • chelseykia

      @PeterVN : No, it reflects who God is : I do not serve a God whose heart is made of stone. I fell in love with THE God who embodies love and forgiveness, a God who never gives up the eternal struggle for His people. I fell in love with THE God who is not afraid to deliver righteous judgment, and hurts when He does so. I fell in love with THE God who shows no favoritism to any people; all are equal before His eyes. I fell in love with THE God whose sense of humor never fails to make me amused. And lastly, I fell in love with the one and only God who sacrificed Jesus his only son to the world, and I can't comprehend how much love that took.

      I don't care if this is convincing or not – what I care about is that I wish to never give up in the long run to tell people about Jesus.

      March 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  3. mm

    The entire human race is responsible for the death of Jesus. It was for our sins that he died. Who actually carried it out not of small matter however it's water under the bridge. We should all be thankful that we have someone (other than the Pope) to atone for our sins and bring salvation to the human race. We don't need a Pope to get on record to make himself look good. He's just trying to get in good favor with the Jews.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  4. US Citizen

    Where is Gods body? I want to see it. I'll bet all we find is more gold and trinkets taken from poor prople over the years.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  5. Matt

    I'm confused: wasn't the death of Jesus a *good* thing according to Christian mythology? That whole "forgiveness of sins" bit, etc?

    And besides, given the rest of the acts ascribed to Jesus in the myths, I'm pretty sure he could have given the Romans what-for if he'd been so inclined...

    March 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  6. rem

    Pius XII did little to save the Jews from Hitler? What did the Jews do or for that matter the World do to save the Cambodians from Pol Pot, or the Ukranians from Stalin, or the Armenians from Turkey?

    March 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  7. Thore Thoresen

    The Italians did.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  8. myklds

    @manicdumber, I mean, manicdrummer...You were saying that Jesus didn't actually exist aren't you?

    Jesus might be a fake (donkey-riding) messiah but to argue about his actual existence is far beyond silly.

    I thought that Atheist's unbelief has reduced the sizes of their brains to a quark. Your post has just erased all the doubts.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  9. News at 11

    Jews issue lawsuit against pope and church for copyright infringement of the word 'Jew'.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  10. US Citizen

    The fact that there are these disgusting acts and issues taking place in what is the biggest and ongest employed tyrant dictatorship in humanities history just goes to show what kind of trach we humans can create. It's interesting that the longest surviing dictatorship all the way from dark times is still kicking. The pope and others may or may not know the true origin of humans but it was not god nor any of the tyranical violent thugs that surrounded these beliefs that lead to humans torturing humans. For what, so these creaply old folks can mess with children. I realy think we need to wake up as a human race and smell the coffee. I have seen more proof of extrrateresteral possibilities that of god. Where is god and what has he done for us lately except ask for money on the sunday gathering. NOTHING. Weather other life is out there good or bad I am afraid we are going to be find it sooner than we think.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  11. joe

    Considering Jesus is simply a character in a book, of course nobody "killed" him.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  12. heemqw

    Jews are not liked anywhere but amongst themselves where they converse about others but are not smart enough to say hey I'm jewish ohh no!

    March 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Abe

      This does not make any sense. Isn't remotely related to English!

      March 2, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Andrea

      This makes absolutely no sense.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • john paul

      excellent point!!

      March 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  13. heemqw

    Jews killed Jesus by hiring the Romans to do the dirty work....

    March 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Abe

      The Jews didn't hire Romans. The Romans persecuted the Jews. Isn't Christianity just Rome reinvented? Rome couldn't survive as was so they went through a change and re-emerged as Christians. Why do you think the Pope and the Vatican City is in Rome? One could say that Christians killed Jesus.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • pooee

      your absolutely correct! The jews are to blame!

      March 2, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  14. banacek8675

    If God has control over everything then didn't HE kill jesus? And with his power, why didn't he just prevent it, bring him back to life in the normal sense, etc? The whole theory is contradictory. If God's plan was to ALLOW jesus to die on the cross, then that was his plan wasn't it? You see where I'm going? Why would God set this whole thing up? To convince us? Why not just program our minds automatically then? Like an instinct. What IS instinctive is man's desire to believe in SOMETHING. This is why there are hundreds of religions out there. Sorry for the caps but I'm trying to add emphasis. To persecute an entire people over this rumor is the real definition of satanic. Real based on things we can actually prove.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • death is the great equalizer

      Religion is and has always been no more than a bogus "belief system" designed to assuage our anxieties related to dying and the unbearable realization that there is absolutely NOTHING we can do about it. Our mortality is what defines us, not our falsely presumed immortality. I have no retrievable memories prior to about my second or third birthday, and I certainly have no memory of being around for the "big bang" or or any other period during the last 13 billion years. That's what it's going to be like after I am dead, which is likely more preferable to the sheer terror of being conscious for eternity! AAAAGGHHHH!!!!!!

      March 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Sean

      God gave man free will. That is in the bible too. Programming us to believe would be contradictory to that. Also, Jesus had to die, but it wasn't for us to believe in him; his death was to absolve man of original sin.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Timetraveler


      "God gave man free will."

      So man had no choice in the matter, correct?

      March 2, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • Pumbaa

      I think the story of Abraham and Isaac proves that God does not want a human sacrifice. Reading the story, it is clear that God never intends this sacrifice to conclude, from the provision of the ram at the worship site. How much more would God have prevented his/her son from being sacrificed.

      The Romans thought that Jesus might become a revolutionary and thus cause an uprising of the Jews in the area. So they arranged to find him and kill him.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Sean


      Yes he did. Free will allows for the ability to choose whether you believe or not. Nobody's sayinig you have to believe in God, or Jesus or anything in the bible. A majority of people who are not fanatical will tell you that the stories in the Bible are just that, stories. There is no proof they actually occurred and in my opinion a very large majority didn't. It is the overall message behind these stories that is important.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Sean

      So choose not to believe there is no God, that is fine. But don't disparge others who choose to believe, simply because the idea of God seems improbable. Many of the greatest minds throughout history believe in a God like figure. Stephen Hawking, arguably the smartest person alive today, even believes in the existence in a God figure.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm |

    Damn, I'm sure glad he cleared that up, I've always wondered about that.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  16. DoodleSheep

    Jesus wouldn't have died if he had provided nachos instead of fish.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      Or at least fish tacos with Corona.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  17. Looking for Sanity in Religion but can't find it

    In conclusion ladies and gentlemen there is no scientific evidence found in the material of the Old Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and furthermore the content of this material emanated from other parts of the world than described therein and I find it void of scientific theory but it is good literature. Heck Mohammad liked it to much he create his own religion based on it and the so called fictional spirit from the pages of the Old Hebrew Bible.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  18. Tammy

    Jesus died on the cross for ALL our sins and then he rose again and is in heaven with his father God. The only person I will bow down to is God and right now I don't think it matters who you blame to the death of Christ because it was all part of Gods plan. What matters is where are you going when you die? I was touch by Jesus about 8 months ago and was forgiven for all my sins and I can't wait to see Jesus face to face. I hope the pope has asked God for forgiveness for his sins other wise he won't see Jesus!! God Bless to you all.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      "I was touch by Jesus about 8 months ago"

      Are you going to sue?

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

      @ timetraveler


      March 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Dr. J

      Yeah, what? You were touch by Jesus? What does that mean?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • LAbobcat

      Come down to the basement with Father Jesus, there's plenty of candy and no silly rules!

      March 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • chelseykia

      @Dr.J : It means you sink to the ground on your knees because you can't shoulder the weight of Jesus's glory. You weep at His feet, and, for a mere second, felt utter completion in your heart, so much that it's about to burst, and thought, for a second, 'Ah, Jesus, my love, thank you for the air I breathe, that I live so I've come to know you.'

      March 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • chelseykia

      Reference : I've been there.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  19. Brian

    Jesus killed Jesus. Jesus.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  20. comment9

    It is silly that a pervert that has been involved in the covering up of child abuse in his organization is prefessing to know who killed someone that supposedly existed over 2000 years ago. Do people really listen to what this foolish pervert has to say?

    March 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • US Citizen

      This is strictly my belief. There is no thing called God. I hate to go against the "our bible belt ingrained brainwashing" but there is no god nor did we come from apes or other animals, we were put here by extraordinary means. We are the creaton of an advanced alien species that is yet to be determined. Why haven't any of the other billion living creatures on this planet developed any intelegence to challenge our dominance? There has been plenty of time. I'll tell you why, we humans are a "custom build" from some aliens monster garrage. Unfortunately so far we are living up the the term monster.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • heemqw

      better than a terrorist Rabbi

      March 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      @US Citizen Why hasn't there been anything faster than a cheetah? Why hasn't there been anything bigger than a blue whale? Why the electric eel the only one that can electrocute its prey? One can find a unique feature in hundreds of different species. So what? Occam's Razor principle shoots down your alien theory. There are well established terrestrial processes that explain how man evolved. There is no need to resort to aliens, which is yet another tired, old and lame ex machina move.

      March 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • US Citizen

      Timetraveler, let me ask you. Where is the body of God? Where are the bodies of these souposed jews that killed him? Where is the supernatural presence? Why can we not reconstruct the building of the pyramyds? Why are we the most powerful germs on the grain of sand in the sand box? Don't be nieve, earth is a sand grain in space, maby even less. I will not sal little green men until they stop by to upset the morning corn flaked on the sand grain but do not dedicate yourself to facts these are no proof of.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Sherri

      I agree. NO one should listen to him, but, unfortunately millions do. This Bishop who denied Hitler's aims is as bad as Ahmedenajad (or whatever) who says the Holocaust did not happen. Well, talk to some of the U.S. servicemen who went INTO those camps and SAW what Hitler had been doing. The camps are all over Europe. It was no secret what was going on. You can go to them now and see the ovens etc. I have done this. The Germans knew what was happening. But they went along.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • gdono

      US Citizen
      You say we are uniquely intelligent and then state some crazy idea that makes no sense. You have disproved your own theory.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Jaeger

      USCitizen, if you want to believe your theory is true, that we then lets take it to the next level. This supposed advanced alien race is not so advanced and not all that cool, at least not as cool as your fantasy. Most likely they are some sadistic force that placed us here as some class experiment. Probably wanted to see if we would consume our planet's resources to the point of extinction. Then they would turn in a report for extra credit.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Timetraveler

      @US Citizen Where is the Tooth Fairy? Where is Santa Claus? You're asking some very silly questions. There is no god. There never was. Show me one piece of evidence that supports the existence of god.

      "Why can we not reconstruct the building of the pyramyds? "

      Who is "we"? And what construction project ever set out to reproduce the pyramids? Just because it makes no sense to do it, doesn't mean it's impossible.

      And by the way, you completely avoided my questions. The bottom line is that as a species we are as unique as any other species that lives now or ever lived. You like to believe we're special. The plain and simple truth is that we're no more "special" than any other species. Deal with it.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
About this blog

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.