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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. Muneef

    It is clearly becoming a habit that with every Pope coming before he goes out of life he has to give Jews&Israel some thing previous pope did on last visit to Jerusalem where he asked forgiveness and now this one will prove them innocent from killing any one whether was Jesus as was thought or another man in his cloth "total innocence".
    Seems this is obligatory even for American Presidents to give them all he has and could before he moves out of office and who does not commit to that ends up with a story as did Ben Clinton,although I have seen in him the he cared much more than those before and after him...except the present one is as good.

    March 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Muneef

      In line bringing you closer in teaming up against Islam/Muslims I suppose ??

      March 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Geri

      @Reality
      the Bible speaks of the resurrected saints inhabiting this planet earth, which will be purified, transformed, and perfected at and through the coming of the Lord (2 Pet 3:11-13; Rom 8:19-25; Rev 21:1). The "new heavens and a new earth" (Is 65:17) are not a remote and inconsequential spiritual retreat somewhere off in space; rather, they are the present heaven and earth renewed to their original perfection.

      Believers enter the new earth not as disembodied souls but as resurrected bodily persons (Rev 20:4; John 5:28-29; 1 Thess 4:14-17). Though nothing unclean shall enter the New Jerusalem, we are told that "the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, . . . they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations" (Rev 21:24, 26). These verses suggest that everything of real value in the old heaven and earth, including the achievements of man’s inventive, artistic, and intellectual prowess, will find a place in the eternal order. The very image of "the city" conveys the idea of activity, vitality, creativity, and real relationships.

      It is regrettable that this fundamentally concrete, earthly view of God’s new world portrayed in the Scripture has largely been lost and replaced in popular piety with an ethereal, spiritualized concept of heaven. The latter has been influenced by Platonic dualism rather than by Biblical realism.

      . Historically, two major, rad-ically different views of human nature have been held. One is designated as cla-ssical dualism and the other as Biblical wholism. The dualistic view maintains that human nature consists of a material, mortal body and a spiritual, immortal soul. The latter survives the death of the body and transits to heaven, or purgatory, or hell. At the resurrection, the soul is reunited with the body. This dualistic conception has had an enormous impact on Christian life and thought, affecting people’s view of human life, this present world, redemption, and the world to come.

      March 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  2. Dave

    Hard to kill someone that never existed.

    March 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  3. Geri

    Reposting from above

    Geri

    @Reality...Thanks for the link!

    I am wondering how all of a sudden, we hear that Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, is a "state" of being. This str-ikes me as strange, because of all the literal explanations of the three.

    No offe-nse to people who do believe in a purgatory, but I never did believe in that, I have a Catholic fri=end, and she told me once that purgatory was not me-ntioned in the bible. I thought it was odd, that not onty was it not m-entioned, but there seemed to be no descr=iption of it there as well. The only exchange was the one between Laza-rus, and heaven and hell.
    For a place to exist,such as a pur-gatory, where souls su=pposedly went to pay for thier sins, via the prayers of those still living, indu=lgences, and so on, wh would there not be more said?

    I always believed(and still do) that when you repented of sin, and accepted Jesus Christ de-ath on the cross for you, that your sins were completely clea-nsed.
    Why would anybody have to "suffer" thier way to Heaven, he did it all on the cross!

    I never heard it said,( until I read the link provided by Reality), that pu-rgatory was what was referred to as the pu-rging we go thru at the Judgement seat of Christ. I have a problem with that st-tement.

    This is why. The pu-rging is described as the refining fi-re that pu-rges us, and makes us in a state of perfection to enter heaven.( Like the refiners of gold did, to the gold, example)

    How then, could or would, people need to be praying for you, while you "suffered", so you could enter heaven.? Jesus will be present at the pu-rging, why would anything like that be needed? Second, why did the bible not speak about this process, of one suffering, and the prayers of the earthly faithful, coming up before the Lord? Jesus is the one who does the ple-ading before the Lord. This sounds a bit susp-icous to me.

    Next, we have a
    scripture that relates to this...Heaven will be a place to wo-rship God. When Isaiah speaks for the Lord of the new heavens and earth, he prophesies that "all fle=sh shall come to wo=rship before me" (Isaiah 66:22,23). The Apostle, John, also predi=cts the same thing saying: "For Thou only are holy: for all nations shall come and wo-rship before Thee" (Revelation 15:4; 21:24).

    Ok, Does one see the word there..? It is "fle=sh".

    We are told we will have new bo-dies, and that the graves will be open and all will come out of the grave..it does not say "spirits" .

    Anybody want to enlighten me? Am I missing something here?
    One more thing...why did it take all this time, for this pope to come forth with this discovery?

    We will start with that, and then the other two, Heaven and Hell.

    March 4, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • Reality

      Geri,

      Aquinas addressed the issue of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory as being "spirit states" long before JPII.

      "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."

      March 4, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  4. Geri

    @Reality...Thanks for the link!

    I am wondering how all of a sudden, we hear that Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, is a "state" of being. This str-ikes me as strange, because of all the literal explanations of the three.

    No offe-nse to people who do believe in a purgatory, but I never did believe in that, I have a Catholic fri=end, and she told me once that purgatory was not me-ntioned in the bible. I thought it was odd, that not onty was it not m-entioned, but there seemed to be no descr=iption of it there as well. The only exchange was the one between Laza-rus, and heaven and hell.
    For a place to exist,such as a pur-gatory, where souls su=pposedly went to pay for thier sins, via the prayers of those still living, indu=lgences, and so on, wh would there not be more said?

    I always believed(and still do) that when you repented of sin, and accepted Jesus Christ de-ath on the cross for you, that your sins were completely clea-nsed.
    Why would anybody have to "suffer" thier way to Heaven, he did it all on the cross!

    I never heard it said,( until I read the link provided by Reality), that pu-rgatory was what was referred to as the pu-rging we go thru at the Judgement seat of Christ. I have a problem with that st-tement.

    This is why. The pu-rging is described as the refining fi-re that pu-rges us, and makes us in a state of perfection to enter heaven.( Like the refiners of gold did, to the gold, example)

    How then, could or would, people need to be praying for you, while you "suffered", so you could enter heaven.? Jesus will be present at the pu-rging, why would anything like that be needed? Second, why did the bible not speak about this process, of one suffering, and the prayers of the earthly faithful, coming up before the Lord? Jesus is the one who does the ple-ading before the Lord. This sounds a bit susp-icous to me.

    Next, we have a
    scripture that relates to this...Heaven will be a place to wo-rship God. When Isaiah speaks for the Lord of the new heavens and earth, he prophesies that "all fle=sh shall come to wo=rship before me" (Isaiah 66:22,23). The Apostle, John, also predi=cts the same thing saying: "For Thou only are holy: for all nations shall come and wo-rship before Thee" (Revelation 15:4; 21:24).

    Ok, Does one see the word there..? It is "fle=sh".

    We are told we will have new bo-dies, and that the graves will be open and all will come out of the grave..it does not say "spirits" .

    Anybody want to enlighten me? Am I missing something here?
    One more thing...why did it take all this time, for this pope to come forth with this discovery?

    We will start with that, and then the other two, Heaven and Hell.

    March 4, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  5. Willie O. Thomas

    These comments are read all over the world, never say the USA is a Christian Nation AGAIN !

    March 4, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  6. magdelaine

    Dear Jesus Is Lord and Savior–
    Wha'? I don't sense any love from you–only fear and rule following–do you really think that's all there is to life? Most of you people have less than 100 years on earth and then you think God is going to send you to an eternity of hell because you didn't 'believe' in just the right way? That's almost as crazy as the old testament jealous god. Is this really what you think an omniscient presence does? Good luck to you! Love love love–Yeshua– ps–I hope you open your heart!!!

    March 4, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  7. Jonathan

    Hey if the pope writes/says it, THEN IT MUST BE TRUE, right? Hahah, he cracks me up. As if he was there 2,000 or some odd years ago when all this happened. If it even ever happened. I mean the story is passed down through text and word of mouth. How much does a simple story change between just two orthree people gossiping and passing it along? Imagine 2,000 years of jibber jabber across racial and cultural divides and oceans! Insanity you religious dependents. I mean, whatever helps you get up in the morning and feel as if you're important and is a contributing factor to you pushing through your problems. Then so be it, but ya'll are hilarious!

    March 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • walt

      It is a cult, that has resulted in millions of violent deaths over the years.

      March 4, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  8. Daniel

    I wish whoever was Pope in the mid-late 1970's had said this. I'd have avoided a lot of beatings going to and coming from Hebrew School

    March 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  9. Muneef

    Why do you insist that the Jews killed Jesus? The Quran certifies for them that they killed not Jesus but killed some one that they thought was Jesus because of what he was wearing;

    An-Nisa sura 04:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    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).
    There were even disbelievers among Jesus disciples that had betrayed him ;    

    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 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  10. Dan

    Benedict is saying that we cannot blame the Jewish people for the death of Jesus. Only the mob and the Sanhedrian were calling for his blood. He is underminning the theological underpinning which has been in the past used to justify anti-semitism. He is rightfulling placing the blame for the condemnation of Jesus (to death) on those who actually condemed him.
    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 3, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  11. magdelaine

    I'm passing this along from Yeshua–"Boobahlas–Self loathing, self loving, what ever..I sit up in these clouds– and I think -its 2000 years later and these people still don't get it!!! (I like using three exclamation points–very orthodox–very hip right now)–anyway–my boobalahs–What you were all supposed to learn by now is to have love in your hearts and to see others with the same love and devotion as you do when you imagine me in your midst. That's it!!! Is that clear??? Jews, Greeks, Romans, Caucasian, Asians Africans, everyone– all kinds, and I really could care less who's shtuping who– as long as it’s not people who cannot consent. Anyway–what is it your business? All that 'be fruitful and ,multiply' stuff came from my father–back when the earth was void–just a few simple animals–not even a good New York bagel cart fa' Crissakes! Anyway–back then, as you can imagine and that WAS more than 2000 years ago!!!– it made sense–BUT not now! If my father even dared look down here today he'd say-'Let there be birth control!' Today, I have new things to share with you, so pay attention and stop groveling–you will need this for the next thousand years or so–1)Stop caring about who everyone else is sleeping with–2)try the shrimp–they're fine if you eat them in season, 3) mix and match clothing fabrics–it's called fashion–people!!! ...and 4) STOP all the converting, fighting and killing in the name of GOD or whatever you call the ineffable– I say this to each of you–whatever your tribe!!! Do you honestly think I pick people based on who their parents or ancestors were, what club/religion they belong too, what eyes, hair, skin color, or what school they graduated from– What are ya' nuts!? Be compassionate–have best wishes and good thoughts for people who don't come from your line, family, tribe, whatever, and act with the same concern for them as you do for your dearest relative –plus review your day every day–figuring out how you might make things even one iota better–be forgiving–no one's perfect...that's about it for now. Oh and one more thing–wash your face, brush your teeth, put on clean underwear and if you should get lost in the desert send me a message on, Facebook! That Zuckerberg–what a nut–but he connected the word–I gotta give that to him..AH–how I wish I were young and free like you–take soap!!! love–from Yeshua–with special thanks to Sam Levinson, may he rest in peace.

    March 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • HuggyBear

      That was awesome. I couldn't have said it better myself.

      March 4, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  12. Adam

    Wasn't this part of Vatican II, anyway?

    March 3, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  13. Brian

    even the pope must bow to zionism

    March 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  14. Jesus Is Lord & Savior

    FOR THOSE OF YOU OUT THERE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, YOU SURE DO SPEND ALOT OF TIME THINKING OF HIM! ALL WILL BELIEVE WHEN HE RETURNS, THE SAD THING IS ETERNITY IS A LONG TIME SUFFER.
    AS A GOOD JEWISH FRIEND OF MINE ONCE SAID, "WHO WANTS TO FIND OUT THEY ARE WRONG IN THE END?"
    I LIKE SURROUNDING MYSELF WITH GOOD COMMON SENSE PEOPLE.

    LOVE IN HIM,
    JOHN 3:16

    March 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Yeah that's like saying Ah you hate President Obama, but man you sure do follow your countries politics! It's really an irrelevant point, heck it's a fallacy. And I wouldn't consider a simple typed out comment posted on a website to be a "considerable" amount of time spent thinking about YOUR "god" or whatever you want to call gim. Ya'll are silly silly silly!

      March 3, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  15. Cythara

    Of course they didn't kill him! Just like today, they hired others to do the job.

    March 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Cythara

      Actually, I got that wrong, they TRICKED others, who normally wouldn't have cared one way or the other (the Romans) into doing it for them. Just like they tricked the American people into fighting an Israeli war in Iraq. Nothing has changed.

      March 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  16. Erky

    Shouldn't the Christians have been thanking the Jews for killing Jesus, instead of persecuting them for centuries?
    By killing Jesus, didn't the Jews fulfill God's plan and make it possible for people to go to heaven? Ah, the stupidity of organized religion.

    March 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  17. John

    No, it was not Jews becuase the Judeans are or were not Jews. Nigerians were hired to do the hatchet job!

    Just imagine, political correctnes for you!

    March 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  18. Mick

    Why would you Christians have a problem with the Jews for alledgedly killing Jesus? I thought the whole thing about the crucifixion was that it somehow saved you. Why would you hate the Jews for committing an act that allowed you to be saved?

    March 3, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • lenber

      Oh boy you sure got it all wrong.

      March 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  19. Muneef

    Al-Anbiya sura 21:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful 
    Verily this community of yours is a single community, and I am your Lord; so worship Me. (92) And they cut up their affair among them: , all are unto Us returners. (93) Whosoever worketh righteous works, and he is a believer, there shall be no denial of his endeavour; and We are for him the Writers. (94).

    Al-Mumenoon sura 23:
    And lo! this your religion is one religion and I am your Lord, so keep your duty unto Me. (52) But they (mankind) have broken their religion among them into sects, each sect rejoicing in its tenets. (53) So leave them in their error till a time. (54).

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/the-human-family-tree-3706/time-line

    March 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • freewords

      Is it written in the Quran that Allah of the Muslim is not the same Allah of the Jews and the Christians? Mohamed was referring to a different Allah and ordered the killing of the ... to own the world (deity), Why the believers (The Muslims) do not wait till a time (?)

      March 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Muneef

      freewords.

      We worship the God of Abraham it is he who named us Muslims;

      Al-Hajj sura 22:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! (78).

      March 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  20. Joel

    no one is responsible for the death, it was part of gods plan all along. thank you lord jesus for saving me and giving me the true certainty of eternal life. judaism and islam cannot offer that. messianic judaism can however.

    March 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Erky

      Thank you lord, for having your god-man hybrid son ritualistically murdered by us, so our sins can be forgiven....by you.

      March 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
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