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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. Mitchell

    protastans are always a joke but the real sad part is catholics and "christians" alike COMPLETELY IGNORANT OF THEIR OWN BELIEFS

    March 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Jacob

      SAD BUT TRUE Mitchell!

      March 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  2. Chris Grau

    It was not the jews, 2 words.....CHUCK NORRIS

    March 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Kyle

      I agree, Chuck Norris beard went back in time and killed jesus for false impersonation.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  3. Jacob

    Historical Fact: Jesus was crucified by the Romans, who some 200 odd years later created the Bible through the counsel of nicea who took many parts of other religons, including their Jesus character who was about the 10th religious figure to be crucified and come back to life and have a birthday on 12/25. the bibles account of jesus could not be more fictional as anyone who has researchjed knows there are many religions which predated Christianity have had their belifs copied into Christianty.

    Biblical jargain: Jesus father GOD, sent Jesus to Earth to die for our sins, so God killed Jesus. The almighty powerful God could have forgiven our sins without killing Jesus, I guess for some reason he wanted Jesus to die. One of the millions of things in the Bible that do not make sense.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Actually, there is no contemporary record of Jesus whatsoever, so you really cannot say it was historical fact. The first historical mention comes decades after his death. Jesus was of so little note in his own time that nobody bothered to write anything about him.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  4. MsAledella

    The Jews in Jesus' day REJECTED Jesus as the Messiah - that is different than MURDERING him.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • MsAledella

      Although as others have pointed out, the Jewish leaders were involved with the decision to kill him. And, as others have pointed out, this does not directly implicate everyone of Jewish descent.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  5. Mary

    The take away from this discussion is simple, teach PEOPLE about the NONVIOLENT Jesus Christ and stop the KILLING of anyone, anywhere, at anytime. That is the message of Jesus of Nazareth.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  6. Muneef

    An-Nisa sura 04:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    The people of the Scripture ask of thee that thou shouldst cause an (actual) Book to descend upon them from heaven. They asked a greater thing of Moses aforetime, for they said: Show us Allah plainly. The storm of lightning seized them for their wickedness. Then (even) after that) they chose the calf (for worship) after clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty) had come unto them. And We forgave them that! And We bestowed on Moses evident authority. (153) And We caused the Mount to tower above them at (the taking of) their covenant: and We bade them: Enter the gate, prostrate! and We bade them: Transgress not the Sabbath! and We took from them a firm covenant. (154) Then because of their breaking of their covenant, and their disbelieving in the revelations of Allah, and their slaying of the prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened – Nay, but Allah set a seal upon them for their disbelief, so that they believe not save a few – (155) And because of their disbelief and of their speaking against Mary a tremendous calumny; (156) And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. (157) But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. (158) There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them – (159) Because of the wrongdoing of the Jews We forbade them good things which were (before) made lawful unto them, and because of their much hindering from Allah's way, (160).

    March 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Muneef

      Al-E-Imran sura 03:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      But when Jesus became conscious of their disbelief, he cried: Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We will be Allah's helpers. We believe in Allah, and bear thou witness that we have surrendered (unto Him). (52) Our Lord! We believe in that which Thou hast revealed and we follow him whom Thou hast sent. Enrol us among those who witness (to the truth). (53) And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers. (54) (And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ. (55).

      March 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  7. cpc65

    It was Nazis. Nazis from the future! They went back in time and did this. Those SOBs!

    March 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  8. Ariel

    Judaism, Christianity and Islam are some of the worse curses on Mankind. Besides great suffering what did these things bring us?

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

      For one thing – Your name!

      March 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  9. TJeff1776

    The Pope is attempting to rewrite history. The Jewish Sanhedrian consisted predominately of Pharisees and Sadducees, the ruling class; otherwise the Roman Governor wouldn't have allowed audience; nor would the Roman soldiers been involved. The Jewish leadership(who rep the Jewish people) was directly involved. What was done to Jesus was done
    openly and publicly and noone, but close friends, even approached the site. But all this was prophesied thousands of years before it happened.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  10. Aaron1183

    It's interesting that no one ever mentions the thousands of Jews crucified as the Romans conquered Europe. There is absolutely nothing special about Jesus.

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

      True. They seem to think that Jesus was the first and last one.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  11. diana

    The Jewsish high priests of the time were responsible for his capture and eventual death. They didn't like the fact that he was trying to change the Jewish faith. So what! It happened 2,000 years ago. Yes, those jews in that time were responsible, but it does not mean the jews of today should be targeted for it. If you are a true Christian, you know that it was meant to happen in the way that it did. I hate that we have to re-write history to satisfy the Jews of today. Yes, we know you guys have NEVER done anything wrong. You are PERFECT! Facts are facts and we shouldn't have to change facts. Everyone get over it. There is nothing wrong with saying, " yes we were responsible for his execution....big deal."

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

      No darling, Jesus decided he was going to show up at passover and incite the Jews to fight for their civil rights, then Jesus was crucified like thousands of other Jews who tried to rise up against the Romans for equality. That is a fact dear.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  12. WhoLou

    Oh, this is just so yesterdays news. Same old cr@p from the old world's fashion icon. Men in dresses just don't seem relevant anymore. His old god just hasn't delivered any of the Peace on Earth stuff. C'mon, poopy, tell us about some new god(s) that don't have huge churches that don't have mosquitos that you have to keep smoking out and prissy men telling us what to think, while they fiddle little boys. Besides, mosquitos are proof that you have a false god.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Dan

      Your argument is essentially a long factlesss adhominen. I would challenge you to try to refrain from acting in a manner which brings nothing into this debate, and that is greatly insulting, fact free, and fallacious

      March 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  13. standingwave

    I've never understood why Jews were persecuted because of this.The story goes that Jesus' death was preordained and it's purpose was to atone for the sins of man.For helping accomplish this Jews should've been thanked,not murdered and driven from country to country for centuries.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  14. jerry

    Ask a tea bagger this and they will say the pope is out of his mind, everyone knows he just another leader of a cult that are against the real christians the tea bag religion, the only one God reconizes..

    March 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  15. Alfredo

    Any Jews for Jesus here?

    March 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • midggick

      alfredo.

      Quick answer your question, Jews for Jesus are Christians. There are no such thing as a Jew for Jesus. The question is an Oxymoron

      March 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  16. GB

    The Pope molested Charlie Sheen...

    March 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Dan

      Could you please refrain from baseless ad hominen

      March 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  17. Alfredo

    I thought the Roman's killed Christ . Wasn't the crucifixion their way of execution. Regardless it happened over 2000 years ago. I wouldn't hold anybody responsible for an act 2000 years ago. Who knows how accurate the written word is. Like all the souls killed by fellow humans, may he rest in peace......

    March 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  18. echo

    Christ was put to death by the Romans, not the Jews. Judea was a Roman Province. The Jews were not in charge, the Romans were. Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism. Early Christians considered themselves a movement within Judaism. The Jews rejected the Christians as blasphemous. By the time the gospels were written, the Christians had decided they did not want to be considered part of Judaism. Around this same time, Rome was at war with the Jews as a result of an insurrection. The myth that the Jews killed Christ was essentially a PR move to distance themselves from a group persecuted by the Romans. Do you really think the Roman empire asked their Jewish subjects what to do with Jesus? There is no historical evidence whatsoever of a Jewish tradition of letting the people pick one prisoner to free.

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

      Then the Pope's exhonoration is doubly good as it prevents antisemitism and keeps people from wrongly accusing a people.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Kyle

      A roman providence means they had a roman army and governor their to collect taxes and enforce roman law. The PEOPLE were jews. The scripture is pretty clear that the PEOPLE took jesus to the roman authorities because he was disrupting the jewish religion. Jesus was a jew and the jewish laws and traditions that the people followed (just like they do today) was not capable of prosecuting jesus, thus their only recourse was to lay roman charges against him. Do you have any idea what this region was like at this time? Watch monty python's the life of brian cause that was actually a decent description. There was much anger at the ruling romans, many revolutionary groups and jesus was according to scripture tried to be painted as one of these revolutionary groups by the jewish religious rulers. The history is very clear and you are clearly wrong.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  19. Dan

    I would suggest you read the article before spewing hatred. The pope is not altering the bible he's not changing any doctrine all he is saying is that the Jewish race is not culpable for the death of Jesus. Therefore there is no reason to be anti-sematic that although Jews and Romans were involved in the KILLING of Jesus (not that they were the reason for his death) the people themselves are not directly involved in the decision to crucify. Furthermore His holiness has never molested a boy and do you really contend that the Pope should be able to directly control and to have omnipresent knowledge about the actions of 400,000 Priests and over 3 million consecrated men and women. The proposition that this is even remotley possible is subject to ardent condemnation due to it's sheer impossibility.

    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.

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

      Seems pretty ridiculous to me, it's like saying americans didn't invade iraq, but the US government did. Jesus was a jew, the bible is pretty clear that he was turned over to the foreign powers that were in control of the government in order to get rid of someone they saw as upsetting to the status quo. As a citizen I have some responsibility over what happens in my community. Judiasm is not simply a religion but the people have isolated themselves to the point they are for lack of a better term their own race of people. Jews as a people are not responsible for the death of jesus, the jewish religion at the time was. Just like the Catholic religion is responsible for the crusades and inquisition.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • WhoLou

      Well, somebody has to be in charge and be accountable. If your poop is not responsible, then your god must be in charge of the pedopriest molesting little boys. Seems you want it both ways, or NO WAY, or is that Yah Wey ?

      March 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Dan

      SO then we should blame the entire race to this day and the religion just because a minority who had power 2000 years ago happened to be of Jewish descent and handed Jesus over the the Romans for Crucifixion. Furthermore to state that an entire religion is responsible for the actions of a minority in that minority and to assume that the actions of a past minority must color an entire faith or people into perpetuity is insanity.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Andrea

      Um, Kyle. The Jews didn't intentionally isolate themselves. The persecution of the Jews by Christians and Muslims throughout history caused the isolation of the Jewish people. Don't get me started on the mass annihilation of the Jewish people thanks to Hitler and the Nazis.

      That being said, people tend to live amongst others who are similar. That's why there are Chinese communities and Arab communities (these are just a few examples) all through out America, and they have their own cultures, too. Judaism is not only a religion but a culture, but that is not due to any sort of isolation.

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

      Your right someone is responsible the individual priests who commited the crimes. Unless I can punish you for the crimes of your friends and family. Guilt by association is a fallacy. Furthermore arguing from a religious standpoint here God gave man freewill so we are all responsible for our own actions.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Hang

      Get your facts straight before you post anything publicly.
      Jews(even though Jesus' death was inevitable in order to redeem sinners like you and me)were directly involved in the killing of Jesus. They wanted Jesus to die and they vigorously demanded that Pontius crucify Jesus. If the law at the time allowed them to execute Jesus themselves they most certainly would've done it themselves.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Kyle

      Andrea have you heard of Jdate? Racism and xenophobia is a 2 way street. Culture isn't some great gem that each one is special and precious and should be cherished and kept. I have lots of jewish friends and all are pressured to marry another jew. It doesn't excuse any racism toward jews but claiming that their isolation has nothing to do with their own choices is ridiculous.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Dan

      Excuse me Hang but are you suggesting that all or the majority of Jews 2000 years ago activly wanted Jesus to die and would have crucified him themselves if given the chance. No I would suggest that you recheck your facts.

      I understand and activly posted that both Jews and Romans were involved in the death of Jesus but like I said earlier this is not the question and what the Pope is saying as that the Jewish race cannot be blamed for the actions of the Sanhedran (pardon my spelling here) and the mob in Jerusalem and it is irresposible and unsupportable (factually) to suggest that the Jews in general are culpable. NO, we must see that the Jews and Romans responsible are responsible alone for their actions not the races proper. This is supported both by historical fact and reason.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Andrea

      Kyle, maybe the reason that we are "forced" to marry other Jews is to preserve our race. There are approximately 13-14 million Jews left in the world, compared to the BILLIONS of Christians. The likelihood of a Jewish person meeting another Jewish person that they want to marry is very slim (at least where I live it is!). So if we "intentionally" isolated ourselves, it was to preserve our culture and religion that was brutally torn apart and diminished by the Nazi regime. It seems as though you wish Hitler had succeeded in his Master Plan.

      March 3, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  20. Andrea

    As a Jewish person AND has a person who majored in Religious Studies AND History (note: I studied ALL religions) I have to ask this: Didn't Jesus have to die via crucifixion?? Does it matter who did it? No, if Jesus didn't die in the manner he did, then there would be no Christianity. Enough said. Oh, and Jesus was a Jew.

    March 2, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Andrea

      Ooops, and "as a person"

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

      Seems pretty ridiculous to me, it's like saying americans didn't invade iraq, but the US government did.

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

      Kyle. Please bring an analogy that fits your point. What is your point?

      March 2, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • DenverGrl

      I have always said the same thing. I am also Jewish, and I find it astounding that many Christians don't understand their own religion. From the Christian perspective, they would all be in hell if Jesus was not crucified. Technically, when you think about it from the Christian perspective, God killed Jesus.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Abe

      Rome is Christianity. Why is the Vatican in Rome!?!?!?!? Romans reinvented themselves as Christians.

      They killed Jesus.

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

      Yes, you have it. Jews like to say it was the Romans who did the actual execution, and it was they who had the power to stop it. And so it is. Many Non-Jews will point out that if the Jewish religious leaders had not put Jesus on trial in the first place the incident would never have occurred. And there is the crux of it. For believers, the incident HAD to occur, and therefore it matters not who was responsible for which part. At the end f the day, we ALL killed Jesus because all humans are short of perfect and therefore all humans, Jews and non Jews, are allowed to accept that sacrifice for original sin. So, it was both Jew and Gentile who played their role in killing Jesus, and it is for both Jew and Gentile that the sacrifice was made. So can we stop finger-pointing? We are ALL responsible, and therefore both of us (Jew and Gentile) had our representatives involved in this crime; the Jewish Priesthood and the Roman Gentile military government.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • concerned

      Typical jew, put the blame on others

      March 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Nathan

      Jesus was killed, it is true, but you just can't keep a good man down!

      March 2, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Nathan

      Jesus was killed by men in power in Jerusalem. It doesn't really matter which religion if any they had. One of the men was Judas Iscariot, the Apostle, so who cares which religion the others adhered to. Jesus was a Jew in the cultural sense of the term, but considering he established his own church and ordained the apostles and set them at its head, I would disagree with the statement that he was a Jew in the religious sense of the word. Jesus was no more a Jew at the end of his life that Martin Luther was a Catholic at the end of his.

      March 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Hang

      No one has a right to judge Jews. Jews will be judged by God along with all the other ethnicities.
      But you have to at least realize what you've done and ask God for forgiveness instead of trying to justify the collective evil act.
      I sincerely hope that you(and denvergrl) repent of your ignorance and presumption be forgiven.

      March 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
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