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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. Bold Coffee

    God orchastrated the whole passion play.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  2. geecee827

    I dare say that were Jesus to return to us today that he would be crucified all over again – because he was a SOCIALIST!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  3. David Caton

    He's the Pope? Really? Leave it to a German to spout such outrageous garbage. They're always shooting their mouths off, and starting World Wars until the rest of the planet rightfully destroys them, and shuts their ignorant pie-holes. It appears, regrettably, that even this 'Holy Man' is not immune to Teutonic stupidity. Term limits and IQ tests for Pope, anyone?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  4. Meow

    What am I missing here? He's your messiah because he died for your sins right? His resurrection and everything that entails is an enormous part of Christianity, hence Easter? If he didn't die, he'd be nobody. Nice to see all this anti-Muslim sentiment, you Christians are so warm and fuzzy, hugs!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Sarah in Texas

    This is such an irrelevant subject anyway. People that claim "Jews killed Jesus" forget that their savior's purpose was fulfilled in his death. No offense to Jesus, but it doesn't matter who was responsible for his killing. Without it, there would be no Christianity. People are stupid.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Good point.
      And, can anyone imagine Jesus ever letting the Romans kill Barabbas instead of himself.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  6. Dystopiax

    Guess they'll have to re-write the Oberamergau Passion Play, again.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  7. eric

    To be honest, it seems that after all my years of reading, praying, experiencing and reviewing my faith, it seems that Christians have the most narrow and limiting view of what Jesus did, and why. I pray people expand their reading and understanding to a deeper and more loving understanding of the possibility of faith. Love, compassion, tolerance and kindness are the core messages. I know each side (pro/anti) can quote all the verses they want to support their view. What has all our dogma gotten us?

    March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  8. Alan

    Ok so lets clear some information up. First Jesus was Jewish. The Jewish faith had fallen away from the word of God and that is what christ spoke against most often. Remember the market in the temple, things like that. On a side note I am curious to know what his view of the Catholic church would be now a days. Probably not impressed is my guess. Now his death was at the hands of the Romans, so they were the ones responsible. But the one who was ultimately responsible was Jesus himself. He had to die inorder to complete the prophesy. He could have stopped the execution at pretty much anytime he wanted. But if he did, then the story ends. Who killed Jesus is irrelevant. What he brought to this world was what was important. The opportunity to have a relationship with God on a one on one basis. RELIGION is what he came to earth to free us from. I guess he needs to come back again. Thanks Benny for continuing the fight to cloud the message of Jesus. Your really helping

    March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  9. maggie

    So the pope has forgiven the Jews. Who is going to forgive the pope for ignoring child abuse perpetrated by his clergy?

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

      Agreed Maggie. The Catholic Church loves to stand on its soapbox and yell and scream as the worlds true moral compass and yet it has allowed the abuse of children to go unpunished. Hypocracy is part of what Jesus fought against. I guess we know what his thoughts on the Catholic church would be if he came back today. The good news is Philly is in the process of criminally charging some of the priests in their city for their crimes. Lets hope this opens the door to other districts to do the same

      March 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  10. Kris

    To MarkinFL – in summary, Jesus was fully God and fully human at the same time. The "human" part of Jesus dies on the cross but the God Jesus did not. God resurrected the body 3 days later (as according to scripture) and Jesus ascended into heaven.

    The flesh dies here but the spirit does not.

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

      So he really did not make much of a sacrifice by comparison to various fully human martyrs.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  11. CDubs

    Unless any of you were alive 2000 years ago, then please keep your comments to yourself. Stop debating over something no one can ever prove.

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

      There were witnesses (many of them) there observing these events who have not been refuted over the past two centuries by anyone. Is eye witnesses good enough for you?

      March 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Nonimus

      So I take you were there ?

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

      Nope. Wasn't there. Anything written 2000 years ago cannot be proven or whom it was written by, or even that what was written was the 'truth'. Don't keep yourself up at night worrying about things like this, go grab a latte and go for a walk - you'll live longer.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  12. Tomtom

    Raligion is for fools, If it gives you a "sense of well being", Hey fine but we all know it is nothing more then a story that was made up to be used to "control" the populus and put fear into them. And I know all you nay-sayers will call me names, but if he was real , Where's the detail of his early years ....mmmmmm..... no mention of that , though they knew what he did every other min of his life.. but who Really cares ... its all just a story. Get a life!

    March 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Seriously!

      Actually, there are many stories of Jesus' early life in the bible (assuming that is who you are referring to) and you would know that had you ever actually read the bible.

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

      Wow. What did Jesus ever do to you personally? Did he offend you in any way? The only thing He did for you was die for you, so whats wrong with that. Your not mad at Jesus, your mad at how the world portrays Jesus to you. Where is your hope in life? Isnt it sad to think that when you die thats it?? I ask you to really think about Jesus and ask yourself what did he really do to me to make me feel this way about Him! Have a blessed day!

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

      "What did Jesus ever do to you personally?"
      Technically, if he ever existed, he set up a religion that has stunted man-kind's development by several hundred years (the Dark Ages) and caused many deaths, torture, general inhumanity, and even today enables millions of people to ignore reality in favor of some fantasy.
      But that's just me.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Constantine The Great

      Nominus: Jesus didn't do that. I did. I had to clamp down on the Empire you know. Keep things under control. You wouldn't believe all the wild beliefs that were being tossed around before I did. Only problem, After I tamed to Empire, they weren't much of a match for those blasted barbarians who just wouldn't listen to reason...my reason. had to give up more than half the empire to their Brutish ways. Funny thing. They eventually had the Gaul to start their own brands of Christianity. Then it just got more confusing again. We actually got to the point of excommunicating each others High Priests. A good time was had by all, but not much of a God time.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  13. QueenShalom

    Jews knew that more than 2000 years already. Thank you anyway for admitting the truth although a BIG delay.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  14. Jen

    I wonder when he'll admit that Catholics killed Christianity?

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

      I wonder if you realize that the Catholic religion was the very first religion that all others religions broke off of.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Natalie
      I wonder if you realize that the Catholic religion was the very first religion that all others religions broke off of.
      --------–
      You sure? Jesus was a Jew and I am positive He came before the CC! Actually you are quite wrong!

      March 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  15. Trent

    Religions are all shams. So glad we could put to rest a 2000 year old story that has deluded and misguided billions of people throughout history.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  16. Brian

    "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.".........

    Pius XII was overtly anti-Semitic. He said "Jews look like dogs." The Vatican has been trying to apologize for him since 1945.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  17. David C

    I would take his word on that, looks like he might have been around then...

    March 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  18. lukah

    But...the Catholics did kill a lot of people, socrates and armenians to name a few 😛

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

      Armenians?
      I thought that was the Ottoman Empire.

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

      Ummm....Socrates lived prior to Jesus' birth (by about 400 years), which means the Catholics didn't exist and therefore could not have killed him.

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

      Oh and Socrates...
      Didn't get the joke.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Rhs98

      Would that be the same Socrates that was executed roughly four hundred years before the birth of Christ?

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

      Socrates died in 399 B.C. How exactly did the Catholics kill him?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Here and Now and Everywhere

      They killed the Armenians, the first true Christian Nation, probably during the Crusades because they weren't the true faith, though they used a Bible that was probably in or from the original Aramaic which Jesus most likely spoke. Most likely it was more for their lucrative trade routes than their religion though.

      They killed Socrates again, philosophically this time not physically, because he asked too many questions. Not very religious like. Thank the Muslims and Orthodox Christains for keeping Socrates and his following philosopher freinds alive for a few hundred years before they snuck back in during enlightenment. See the things Crusades eventually lead to 🙂

      March 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  19. lajari

    Isn't the hierarchy of the Catholic Church much like the Pharisees of Jesus's day, with the ring kissing, the expectation of bowing to the leaders of the church, etc??? Christ humbled himself totally – but the catholic church with its riches, traditions, rituals, etc – totally go against that humility Christ asks of his followers.

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

      Yes, and they have added many "man made" doctrines as well to corrupt the teachings of Jesus. A good study will reveal that. Just go to the Bible and study what Jesus said and did. He provided all the answers we need. The rest of the doctrines were added by man and subject to error.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  20. CRA

    Jesus was crucified by Romans – he was sentenced to death by Rome. The Jewish priesthood couldn't have killed him if they wanted to since they were under the authority of Rome. Even if they could have they would have executed him by stoning probably on the charge of blasphemy. Pontius Pilat was a powerful and cruel govenor and Jesus wasn't the first prophet he killed. The falsehood that Jesus was killed by Jews was merely a tactic used by early church fathers to make converting Romans easier.

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

      I always thought the Jews wanted Jesus killed because he started a competing religion and was successful in converting many Jews to his religion. The Romans were looking to make an example of somedbody to discourage rebellion against Rome. The Jews simply handed over Jesus to the Romans.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Steveo

      He's a little late with this . How many millions were killed over centuries by the hate spewed from pulpits all over Europe .

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

      CRA,

      Yes, if it happened at all, this is the most likely scenario.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
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