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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. Steve

    To me, many of the comments here defeat the purpose of the message. You can use the scriptures to prove whatever you want – but the bottom line is – if you don't love your fellow man, whatever religion he may be, then how can you be following Jesus? The same God who created the savior created Jews as well as all humans. I take the Pope's message in the spirit it was sent – one of peace and love – remind you of anyone?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Eric G.

      John Lennon.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Che-3

      I don't know how your parents raised you as a man. Didn't your parent tell you NOT to believe in ANY man who lies to thee? This pope is really tripping. Not ONLY that, he's lying to us at high noon and in broad day light. I belief what is WRITTEN and read myself as Christian. I bet you STILL believe that slavery was started by a bunch of turban wearing Hindus in India. From where I sit, you just became a Christian ONLY days ago ........................ Right?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • The Devil Made You Do It?

      Che-3: Even so to blame all of a group for the actions of a few, enough to kill and persecute them for almost 2000 years would never be blessed by Jesus or any true Christain. What kind of Christain does that make you and how long and deep have you studied the LOGOS (logic not word)?

      March 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  2. Terry

    I thought the Romans killed Jesus. They performed the act.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  3. New York

    The mere fact that Jews do not believe in Jesus and only follow the Old Testament should give you your answer. Trying to excuse people from what was done then today is in itself inexcusable. Jesus sacrificed himself for the world to give redemption to all not just one group of people. Ironically these very same groups of people are the only ones that cannot be redeemed through their religion so in essence they are through their belief condemning themselves. As per Jesus "No one gets through to the father but by me"

    March 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  4. Steve

    Here goes a man trying to change the meaning of the bible... Here's a news flash everyone, the bible is not fact. It is left open to interpretation by anyone, and the pope's declaration is not absolute.
    I say Jesus commited suicide because he didn't perform a miracle to free himself from the crucifix. Now all I need to do is publish a book with that in it and people will believe it, right?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  5. GJ

    I respectfully disagree, dear Pope. You are wrong. The jews were mostly responsible for killing Jesus. The Romans were secondly most responsible.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Todd

      And since GJ was there, you know his testimony was credible.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Sorry but didn't God orchestrate the whole thing and didn't the Roman's flog and crucify him.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Here and Now and Everywhere

      Nominus: Yes I did and I made the Romans do it too.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  6. Commonsense

    Organized Religion.... a crutch for the weak-minded. Get real, people.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • aksarben

      Really? Evidence, please.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Steve

      @aksarben: Dude, do you have facebook? How many people beg people to pray for them instead of getting out and doing something themselves. You see it everyday. Instead of taking action and doign something to change whatever it is that is of concer, people ask for prayer. Hence, being weak-minded and begging for help instead of helping themselves.

      Also, how many lies and bull$h!t are told in church every sunday. People are so fake to each other and pretend to care when they really don't, out of fear that "god is watching". That is pretty weak-minded as well.

      I could give you a couple more examples, but I still don't think you'll get it because you are obviously part of the weak-minded crowd.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Jon

      Excuse me, sir, but I'll have you know that my religion is – by its nature – highly *dis*organized, and that's the way I like it!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Che-3

      You really have a point though! Hey who am I to argue otherwise. We all may have been enslaved.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Conflict of Interest

      Organized Religion is an oxymoron to anyone who has studied it at length. For those that don't know those are two words that are opposites, like military intelligence. Still that doesn't mean there's no truth to be found in it. Just that you're probably better off doing a lot of independent research in addition, to distill what you need...and I chose distill purposefully...as many use it much the same, as a mechanism to cope.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  7. elderado

    I I am a Christian (tho admittedly one of the worst examples that could be offered up), and a Protestant, if that matters. I have NEVER thought in terms of it being the Jews that killed Jesus. From a theological standpoint, like was said above, He gave his life willingly (and, further, in obedience to the will of his Father). But forget prophesy, to me this was never about an ethnic, racial issue. Jesus himself was a Jew. He was killed by those hungry for power and authority and they did not want to see that usurped. The fact that they were Jewish is irrelevant, in my opinion. For entirely selfish and self centered reasons, a ruling group swayed the legal authorities (Rome) to execute an innocent man–their heritage and race had nothing to do w/ that (tho i know some will argue that point…yes they claimed he was guilty of apostasy and sacrilege…not trivial matters…but I believe that was a red herring…and not the true intent of their reason to have him killed). And i could see myself being one of those yelling “crucify him!”...either from the mob mentality (stirred by the Sanhedrin/priests) or even as one of the self serving priests.....selfishness and hate are universal and are not respecters of race or religion. Leave religion and race out of this, as far as, ultimate blame.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  8. Lulu

    Lifelong Catholic alert !

    Blaming Jews is not logical. In parochial school we were always taught that Jesus died for our sins – had to do it, in fact. If humans had not been sinful, no death on the cross for God's Son. So who is responsible for the death of Jesus ? We all are.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Something

      Lulu,

      "So who is responsible for the death of Jesus ? We all are."

      Yeah, good ol' parochial school... where we were taught that all of mankind, including us, is a pile of poop (original sin, and causing Jesus to suffer and die). But, but, but, my dear children, *you* are at the very top of this pile - prime poop, as it were!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  9. neil

    if u read the scriptures of the bible it implies the jews coerced pilate to crucify him. he even trys to set him free but the jews choose barnabas. he even goes so far to say 'his blood is on your heads and your childrens heads, and symbolicially washes his hands to show his innocence. so the jews are responsible. in the talmud it says that jesus is in hell as a false prophet. they just dont wanna have to say it. i find it weird that the church seen it like that for such a long time then the change and say its not their fault. jesus prophecys the desruction of the jewish temple. now was that the romans fault or the sins of the jews that god didnt protect them. so yeah...god based religions can go on and on but their all false

    March 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  10. Jehu

    My Islamic Friends,

    No one can access God without reemption. If you deny that Christ is the Son of God and that He died and was Raised from the death you are already condemn. Think about it, Why do you follow someone else's teaching about Christ, "Koran," Why don't you read it directly from the Bible and in Jesus words.

    Romans 10:9

    That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    See you at the Judgement Day

    March 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Byrd

      Good. I'll be standing there with my guitar, wearing blue jeans and a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Maybe I'll even wave at you as you take the final plunge.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Todd

      Or, maybe you are just deluded. Ever think you are just wasting your entire life taking a fictional story seriously?

      March 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Trent

      "See you at the Judgement Day"

      Which will never come because all religions are inherently false. You've been lied to, kid.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Nonimus

      See you at "Judgement Day"
      Great name for a bar!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  11. Matt

    THEY don't even know what they stand for anymore.. FYI the pope is a GERMAN hmmmmmmmmm. killers remorse maybe?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • gerald

      Hmmmm. Or maybe your just showing prejudice.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Trent

      Because all Germans must be Nazis right? Way to be racist.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Steve

      @gerald: you're*

      March 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • big tuna

      all Germans are nazis ~ it says it right in the books of Nostradamus

      March 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Big .NET

      And all Tuna are dinner, it says so right here in the book of Menu.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  12. Che-3

    Oh please save us the agony!
    Another silly, ridiculous, BOGUS LIES by the Pope and the Catholic Church. We ALL know the TRUTH as WRITTEN in the BIBLE. It's as CLEAR as NIGHT and DAY! We are being misled once again. Can't FOOL us NO MORE!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Picklejuice

      I think you're fooling yourself.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  13. Byrd

    I guess it's kinda hard to blame the Jews for something that hasn't happened yet, but given time I'm sure they'll get to it because anyone that even remotely resembles the qualities of a savior goes straight to the top of Mossad's hit list. And as Jules Vernon would probably be the first to tell the RatMan, that's what you get when you write fiction. It sometimes comes true, but not always as intended.

    Boo.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  14. Paul N

    There is no god. The jews believed in one particular god (the same one that nw christians and muslims believe in) and the romans believed in other gods. But none of these gods existed then, just as they do not now. People are protesting and dying in north africa against facist rulers – and you choose to argue about this? I'm off to a thread that actually matters.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jon

      ... I think you mean a thread that involves *talking* about something that really matters. Because – let's face it – none of us are actually doing anything about those things. If we were, we wouldn't have time to argue on the Internet.

      Anyway, believe what you want. Regardless, these things have power – at the very least – because people believe in them. Ignore them if you like, but religion is a part of this world and a part of us. You can't exactly avoid it.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • aksarben

      No God? What's the evidence for your claim?

      March 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Todd

      Actually Jon, I don't care what you belive in – God, Allah, Zenu (sp?), whatever. It's when you use your morals to affect my life is when I get peeved.

      Don't tell me who I can marry, or where I can work, or who I can sleep with just because your imaginary friend says so.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Steve

      @aksarben: http://physics.about.com/od/quantumphysics/p/quantumphysics.htm

      Start there. And then maybe try reading some nonfiction.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Byrd

      Sadly, there is a god, but he's a real Class-A, #1 jerkwad. Tell him I said so.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Jon

      @Todd – I don't intend to and I won't. Fair?

      March 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  15. becca

    Yes, Jesus died a martyr's death on the cross but he did it for you and I so that we might be saved from our sin and reconciled to God. Jesus paid the price for our sins. Jesus ressurected on the third day showing he had victory over sin and death. We can have that victory over sin and death too by accepting Jesus' sacrifice for us and living faithfully to God.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Todd

      and then he smite everyone who ate shrimp or who wore mixed blemds or who wasn't a virgin when married or who talked back to their parrents or who had their hair too short or too long or who did any work on the sabbath or....

      March 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • big tuna

      you need to stay out of the noon sun more.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Che-3

      You're avoiding the HARD TRUTH as stated in The Bible. The question on the floor is; who MURDERED, KILLED and NAILED the Son of The Living God (aka Jesus) to tha CROSS on that fateful day? JEWS or Hindus?
      Even every 2-yr. knows this basic answer to this question and they don’t even have to be a Christian, by Baptism or otherwise. I knew it when I was ONLY a toddler sucking on my mother’s breast milk which was cool and comforting as she read the Bible to me just hours after being Baptized.
      Sunday Christian; go back and thoroughly read the scriptures again, so that YEE might know the TRITH as it is WRITTEN. Sayth the LORD!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • big tuna

      Che-3
      hahahahahROFLMAO
      i love reading sh!t like yours ~ you have got to be so wacked
      hahahahhahahahah

      March 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • John

      Yes Becca that is what you believe because your were indoctrinated by your family to believe it. Had you been born a Jew you would have a different view.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jim

      You got it right BECCA!
      One day some of these people will wake up in .....
      There are three (3) things I do not argue with
      Politics, religion & my wife
      I know where I stand with all of them.

      March 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  16. Jon

    Full warning: I'm not Christian, and I don't believe in the New Testament. That said, though, I've always been sort of partial to the theory that Jesus was killed as the result of a linguistic error. Remember the name of the thief that the people wanted set free instead of Jesus? Barabbas, right? - which is from Bar Abba, Aramaic for "son of the father." Who else does that remind you of?

    So which Bar Abba did the people mean? What if the Romans set the wrong one free?

    - Anyway, the reason I like this theory is that I think it taps into the kind of sad irony that seems to me to be hardcoded into the universe. That so much pain and suffering, both in that time and since, might have been caused by a simple bureaucratic misunderstanding seems to me to be entirely in character with reality as I understand it.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Jesus is Murphy!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Gina Lockhart

      Much of the Bible, including the New Testament, was not written to be taken literally. The stories are written as parables to teach a lesson. That said, since almost 2000 years have past since the death of Jesus and the eyewitness accounts in the Bible have been through many translations since they were originally written, I would say that most Christians take it on faith that it was pre-ordained by God that Jesus had to die. Factually, we may never know the "truth." Like the Shroud of Turin, there are scientists who have "proved" it is a fake. There are other "scientists" who have provided it is authentic. Believing the Shroud is a true relic is a matter of faith. Matters of faith cannot be logically debated. One either believes or one does not believe.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jon

      @Gina – fair enough. I certainly don't mean to step on anyone else's faith. I'm just saying that I've always found that part of the story interesting.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  17. Chris

    Jesus is not just a messenger. Jesus is not just a man. Jesus is not just a healer. Jesus is not just a teacher. Jesus is God incarnate on the earth. Jesus died on a cross, and by the power of God he rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death forever and ever. If this is not true, no amount of praying, no number of good works, no matter if you surrender your body to the flames and martyr yourself, it means nothing. Life without Christ is meaningless. With respect, the Muslim view of Isa (Jesus) is fatally flawed.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jon

      Thank you, John Calvin.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      If Jesus were "God incarnate" how could he have died?

      March 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Todd

      Jesus built my hotrod.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Todd

      Hey Chris, I make my own meaning. I make certain people who lost their jobs will stil get their pension. Just becasue I believe in the Flying Sphaghetti Monster and not some lousy fisherman doesn't mean my life is without meaning, it just means I don't care what you think of me.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • susan

      If that's all you have to live for, you must have a really sad life

      March 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Mike280

      If Jesus is God, how did he talk to God while on Earth? Was he talking to himself? When God impregnanted Mary, he did so with himself? How does an omnipotent being die, since Jesus did, in fact, die prior to being resurrected. No no, your theory has to many holes that are confirmed in the Gospels themselves. You don't need a theoligy or science degree, just basic reading comprension to know you're wrong.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Pete

      Chris, YOUR life without christ may be meaningless but mine isn't.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • John

      Life is as meaningless as one makes it. I have non christian friends who's lives are very meaningful and some christian friends who are just living meaningless lives of false religious piety.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Ryan

      Chris was delivering the message of truth, which was never forced on anyone.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Che-3

      Hey Bonehead, STOP your RANT! The question on the floor is; who MURDERED, KILLED and NAILED the Son of The Living God (aka Jesus) to the CROSS on that fateful day? JEWS or Hindus? It’s NOT that difficult!
      You're making it tooooooo hard on yourself. Which you shouldn't if you're really normal.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Pete

      Ryan, you are joking, right?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Perspective

      Chris: Did you forget the t at the end of your name?

      Mike280: It's all possible if God is everything.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Ryan

      Pete, No, I'm not joking. I know how I sound to someone who doesn't believe because I wasn't raised in a church. I have come to believe because of realizing how wrong I was about life and how I still am not perfect. I know Christians can come off arrogant and some are, but a true Christian point of view is realizing that we are not any better than anyone else. It's up to us to brag about God, not ourselves. And if we brag about ourselves, we are not doing what is right.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  18. big tuna

    The pope does have some really outrageous outfits and bling, but, what with all this faith in god and all what is the need of the bullet proof pope mobile. does he not trust baby jesus?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  19. Daniel

    No, it was the Easter Bunny in the dinning room with the candlestick.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Jason

      That was sooo hilarious!

      March 2, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  20. sonofgadfly

    If Jesus was black, and God is a woman, does that make her "She Who Be"?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
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