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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. sadie

    While Jews and Romans were the ones that were physically there they weren't the only ones to put Jesus on that cross. I am to blame. Every drop of blood and second of suffering caused Jesus is my fault. I just thank God that I was not physically there because I know my nature and I would be more likely to be Saul than Peter.
    As to the persecution of Jews, it is like the persecution of any race of people... totally abhorrent. But to claim that Christians did it isn't totally accurate. My grandfather was Christian and fought in the war for Canada to cease the reign of Hitler. Two of his brothers died over there. One executed in an attempt to safe innocent people and the other still MIA.
    Hitler may have claimed to be Christian, and I don't know the status of his faith, but he needed to check himself badly because Jesus' last thought were of forgiveness not hate.
    I am not catholic so I don't follow anything this man says as being any more important than any other Christian, but remember that even Paul and Peter were nothing more than men, flawed like any other.
    God bless.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • BradLW

      Just look at the self-loathing state your "faith" has created in you.

      Sad indeed!

      March 3, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • sadie

      Self loathing? I do not loath myself, in fact I have more respect for myself today than I ever did as an atheist.
      What I do have is a willingness to accept my reality. Jesus died on that cross for my sins, so my sins and ultimitely me are what killed Him. I thank God for His forgiveness and mercy. Thank you Jesus.
      God bless you.

      March 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  2. PJH

    Now I guess someone needs to tell the guys who wrote the New Testament.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  3. Mamulya

    That's all nice and dandy. Who is going to be responsible for this: "Rev. Grant Storms, a renowned anti-gay Christian pastor from Louisiana, was arrested last week for masturbating at a public park, in the vicinity of a carousel and playground where children were present." from Huffington Post today. Are Jews guilty of this, too?

    March 3, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  4. magdelaine

    Could never figure out the appeal of a super man suffering for the people he was supposed to be saving. Oh– but wait– he was Jewish–maybe trying to instill a little guilt–ah– that makes sense.
    "Ech?–After all I've done for you– my people, Oy- you don't even know what you're doing–but I forgive you-oy my kidney. I'll tell your father to forgive you too–he doesn't understand all this mishigas. But maybe, with a little sweetness–from my lips to his ears– he'll spare you–In the meanwhile -don't ever forget me–but don't worry about me either I'll be dancing in the clouds dodging those 747's –no really–I'll be sitting at the right hand of your father–oh the suffering–just for you my children–and whatever you do, don't shtup any one outside our tribe–they are not chosen like I am and you are–well some of you anyway–the rest can go to hell. unless you have faith in me–no questions asked–none–can't you just take my word for it for god's sakes.–Oh wait –I did say something before about loving your enemies as you love yourself ,didn't I? Never mind that–tribalism all the way–oy am I thirsty–just a little vinegar on a sponge should do –thank you, thank you...bless you, bless you,–(tries to make the sign of the cross but his hands are nailed down) . Oy–why have you forsaken me!!! ( lights down–fade to black)

    March 3, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • BradLW

      I like it!

      March 3, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Mary

      Interesting that NOW is the time for us to see humor in all of the hypocrisy. Even if Jesus (why don't they use his Aramaic name) JOSHUA...that's a whole other 'Victimization" paradigm we must break out of....Persecutor/Victim/Savior.....when is it going to end people......
      Infuriating that the current Pope can make up anything he wants to serve his further AGENDA and it is an Agenda...wake up time Sheeple....

      March 3, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  5. Jim

    Blame it on the Palestinians

    March 3, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • D

      Why? How about blame no one TODAY. Instead, leave the past behind 😛

      March 3, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  6. D

    First off: If the jews back then killed him, everyone would be worshipping a rock instead of a cross.
    Second off: Like I've been saying for YEARS, people today should not blamed for something that happened 50+ generations before, whoever the group was.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • BradLW

      You know what D?

      The only way to make a pot boil (i.e. change its cold state to one of warmth) is to keep the fire burning.

      March 3, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  7. Rev. Ray Dubuque

    Why do people think the R.C. church deserves praise when it finally comes around to correcting errors that it has embraced and forced onto its many members for centuries? Big deal that this German pope is ending his church's 17 century lie that "the Jews (of all time) killed Christ". Is that going to bring back any of the 6 million Jews that his German countrymen (98% of whom professed to be "Christians") massacred?
    Google "whokilledchrist" (one word) to find my liberalslikechrist site which shows precisely WHO killed Jesus (i.e. conservative clergy like the R.C. hierarchy) and WHY. If anything, the Gospels promote anti-clericalism, rather than anti-semitism.

    March 3, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • D

      No, but it can help us move forward. I know it may not stop racism, and it won't bring back the 6 million jews, as well as the rest of the victims (Gypsies, gays, mentally disabled, Poles, Jehovas witnesses, and other civilian casualties) killed in WWII (Jewish Survivor Descendant here), and it won't bring back the people killed in the crusades, but who knows what could happen in the next few years?

      March 3, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  8. Geri

    @Reality

    "Heaven is a Spirit state" as per JPII and Aquinas i.e. there can be no bodies. i.e. there was and never will be any physical resurrection/ascension of human bodies."

    That is a lie. Wherer did you get this fallacy from?

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (New International Version, ©2011)
    16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

    God himself says, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).

    “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? (Acts 26:8)

    Tertullian (A.D. 160-230) stated that the resurrection of the flesh to be the church's “rule of faith,” saying it “was taught by Christ” and only denied by heretics. (The Prescription Against Heretics, ch. 13.) The church was unanimous that those who denied a physical resurrection were not part of Christ’s church.

    Rom 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

    Nothing could be clearer. That it is our bodies that are raised from the dead, not our soul. We are mortal and die but when raised this mortality will be swallowed up by immortality.

    March 3, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Reality

      Putting an end tol The Great Resurrection Con Game-

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Also in Paul in 1 Cor 15 speaks of the body of the dead as transformed into a "spiritual body." No one knows exactly what he meant by this term since Jesus supposedly appeared to many after his "resurrection".

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      It is amazing how this agrees with Professor Crossan and the Jesus Seminarian's conclusions based on attestations and stratums.

      See http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/017_Resurrection_of_Jesus for added details

      Then there is this:

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty, wingie, talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      o p.168. by Ted Peters:

      "Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      As per Professor Gerd Luedemann,

      "While noting that the burial tradition may be simply a postulate "derived from the fact of Jesus' death or knowledge of Jewish purity concerns" rather than the memory of an historical event, Luedemann's own preference, influenced in part by John 19:31-37 and Acts 13:20, is that Jesus was buried by Jews who were not his followers. There was no act of affection or devotion involved in the disposal of his remains. His body was simply removed from the cross and buried in some unknown location by Jewish people wishing to protect the imminent festival from the desecration of a dead body remaining on the cross over night."

      March 3, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  9. Geri

    David Johnson

    "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

    Also Jesus predicted Judas would betray Him. If god/Jesus is omniscient, then Judas was destined to betray Christ. Judas was blameless.

    Free Will does not exist.

    Cheers!

    @DavidJohnson
    Man, you dig deep to try and get Judas off the hook, don't you? LOL, Then have the nerve to try to say, "its Jesus fault", cause he was destined to do that. No free will.

    David, get a clue! Even if Jesus knew what he would do, and he did, he would not interfere with Judas plans to become a thief and a traitor.

    He (Judas) had plenty of free will. Its just that was his choice. Just like you. You have a choice to turn your back on Jesus, or to love and acept him. I am sure he knew what your plan would be, but he won't try to change your mind, it is made up. YOU have free will. Otherwise, he would have you here praising his holy name, and rejoicing in his love. But thats not what YOU decided to do.

    Nah, you made your bed, now lay in it. Besides, your just gonna
    cease to be when you die, so you won't be at the Judgement seat of Christ to answer for why you made that decision, nor will you be judged and pay the consequences of it.

    . Otherwise, if you are wrong, it would only be fair and just not to interefere with your choices, so perhaps you should be with the rest who think like you. We would not want you to be with believers, you don't like them and thier views.
    It wouldn't be Heaven,lol. Lets see, wonder where it would be? Hmmmmm.....

    March 3, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  10. Reality

    What you won't find in Benedict's book of rehash:

    For those who do not want to peruse a rather short synopsis of the Resurrection Con, a shorter version:
    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    "Heaven is a Spirit state" as per JPII and Aquinas i.e. there can be no bodies. i.e. there was and never will be any physical resurrection/ascension of human bodies."

    And is it not ironical that JPII along with Aquinas are the ones who put meaning to the words "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless."

    March 3, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  11. Reality

    Getting past B16 and to those who look outside the bible box for the truth:

    From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

    "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

    “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

    “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

    “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

    I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

    See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

    Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

    March 3, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  12. angela

    Pilate asked the JEWS do u want barabus or jesus to die thesaid jesusz what the hell is so hard to understand. It was the jews

    March 3, 2011 at 7:02 am |
  13. Dr Russell J Berry

    '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.' Bad reportinmg again – indicates lack of knowledge of the Church, papal power and the facts, in general The Pope cannot order Bishop Williamson to 'recant' on a matter of secular history. Full stop. No argument. Don't like that. Tough, because it is a fact.

    March 3, 2011 at 6:28 am |
  14. thebeerdude

    I think what the Pope is trying to say is that instead of condemming the Jews, Christians should rejoice that the Jews killed Jesus because if they had not, Chrisitanity would not have become a religion.

    March 3, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • HeavenSent

      The TRIBES ARE...

      25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

      Romans 11:25

      March 3, 2011 at 3:29 am |
  15. Jdonaldson

    This just in: All of the other reindeer did *not* laugh and call Rudolph names, Santa claims in new book.

    March 2, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  16. Justina

    Jews and Romans killed Jesus and they represent the entire mankind. Mankind is an evil and blood-thirsty species.

    March 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • zzzzzz

      ddddddddddduuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb thing to say.

      March 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      K – E – N – I – T – E – S

      March 3, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  17. Roland

    I honestly and truly can't believe that 'biblical scholars' and objective historical haven't figured out, thousands of years ago, that "Jesus Christ" is a Greek myth. It is blatantly obvious that No Jew, during the reign of Pontius Pilate, ever knew or saw, or even heard of "Jesus Christ"...only we later day (duped) peoples argue over his corporeal existence... never once realizing that all that has been written about 'him' was written After Saul of Tarsus, -aka the apostle and eventual Saint Paul's epiphany or apparition of the deceased 'descendant of David and Jewish mashiach'...or, ten years later than the infamous crucifixion.

    Nothing concerning "Jesus Christ" is real. It is all a theological thesis... missus historical accuracy. Any fool can discern the actual truth. I can only wonder why no one has the balls to call a spade a spade.

    So that anyone (everyone) might misconstrue my remarks... let me make it absolutely plain... 'The reason why "Jesus Christ" was crucified was because the Jews Again refused to acknowledge and give credence to a 'theological' form of governance versus a 'secular' form of governance.

    March 2, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • zzzzzz

      zzzzzzz

      March 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • John

      Can you explain the theological vs secular form of governance in the alleged time of Jesus' existance?

      March 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      How much did your parents spend on your education??

      March 3, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • ronald j mcloughlin

      My theory evidences where the word Christ came from–the Greeks. The idea of a monotheistic God vs. Zeus, plus others was a Greek coup to solidify the culture. And while it is not clear in English, it is in Spanish. Je.sus is amazingly close to Ze.us. Even the j and z phonetically makes the sound even closer. The 3 monotheistic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Together
      they have killed a huge number of innocent victims for believing otherwise.

      March 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  18. AntiPalinAlaskan

    And it only took 2000 years for the Church to admit this? Nice work, Ratzi. Tomorrow belongs to YOU, big guy!
    (Don't worry, he's undoubtably unwinding at home with a few altarboys and won't read this...)

    March 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Dan

      I would suggest you depart from using demagogry and ad hominen.

      March 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  19. freewords

    When the Jews say Messiah will serve the Jews and Jesus serves the human beings (the gentiles) consequently will reveal love of God to Adam and Eve and the whole is one and belong to the Creator.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

      Romans 11:25

      March 3, 2011 at 3:25 am |
    • babaelf

      WHAT happened had to happen. It was Jesus’ own explicit wish and will. Each time the Avatar takes birth whether as Zoroaster,Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus or the Prophet, the name of the game is to get Himself crucified in one way or another. It is the eternal Divine Plan for the sake of Love.
      And regardless of what the gospel writers, traditional Christian slanders or the current popie might have said, it wasn’t the Jews or the Romans, but mankind as a whole who forsook the way of Love and Truth which made the crucifixion an absolute necessity. And it continues to this day. Thus, ALL are responsible for Jesus’ ill treatment, albeit by his own design, his divine leela – his game for the sake of all, and actually planned by Him during his previous advent as Buddha. [Fr. Ted]

      March 3, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  20. Iqbal Khan

    Check this.

    http://www.mlivo.com/translations/Shabbir%20Ahmed.htm

    March 2, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
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