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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. Italian Girl

    This Roman objects!

    March 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  2. Marty in MA

    I thought the Romans actually crucified Jesus. Romans=Italians and we couldn't have that, could we? We needed a scapegoat. Blame it on the Jews.

    Religion is the great divider 😦

    March 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Thought Jesus was the scapegoat.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Sorry

      Evil is the great divider and ignorance is the root of all evil, applied to religion or anything else,

      March 4, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  3. Dan

    wow.
    Was he there?
    these people should scare the day-lights out of everyone.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  4. RF

    The Judeans were given a choice, Jesus or Barabas, They chose Barabas. They requested Jesus be put to death. so how is that not their responsibility?

    March 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Jon

      Don't suppose you saw my post above? The one about how Barabbas comes from the Aramaic "son of the father"? ... it's pointed out in at least one other point in the New Testament that the Roman authorities don't have a great understanding of Aramaic. How do you know which "son of the father" the people were asking for? How do you know the Romans let the right one go?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Just out of curiosity.
      What do you think Jesus would have done if they said to him, "Ok, Jesus, you're free to go. We're going to kill this other guy instead."

      March 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  5. PC or not PC

    Why not go to the source? Jesus said that they did not take His life, but that he laid it down of his own accord. Also, when the bible refers to the stone that the builders rejected, who are the buiilders? The stone, Jesus, became the cornerstone of the church.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  6. Joe citizen abroad

    "The Muslims" didn't orchestrate 9/11. But the people who did it were Muslim. "The Jews" didn't kill Jesus. But the people who pressed for it and orchestrated it happened to be Jewish. And in both cases, they used their personal interpretation of their professed faiths to justify their actions.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • ThereisnoGod

      Correction. Do not be fooled. 9/11 was an inside job. Muslims had nothing to do with it. 9/11 like the Kennedy assassinations were an inside job. The Cold War was over...how the hell is the defense industry going to make money if there's nobody to fight?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jim

      ting,

      yes and the moon visit was fake too because the Earth is flat and we have never left the planet....

      March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • So true

      Joe you nailed it, except the ignorant of all the groups keep leading us into more trouble only to blame the other side while the ones that know just want it all to stop and get back to the personal moral improvement things.

      March 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  7. PJ

    The old hypocrit. Can't believe a word he says. He knows he doesn't have long to clear his muddy name, so he is pretending to reach out.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  8. Kate

    And the meek shall inherit the earth.

    So, the egocentric religions of the world (Judaism, Christianity, Muslim, etc.) hold themselves out as supreme and condemn all others. Governments go to war in the name of God (especially the U.S.) and invoke God's name in justifying the killing of innocent women and children. Israel has established itself as being superior in military tactics, weaponry and stealthy assasinations-for-hire around the world. None of this sounds "meek."

    March 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Seraphim0

      So... Kate, when, precisely, did the United States go to war because or for 'god?' Please show me a single war that was fought because of 'god' since the birth of the United States. And don't just say "some war"... I want your source.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • ThereisnoGod

      She can't provide any because there are none!
      The USA government cares absolutely nothing about religion; only money. The USSR had no religion and Nazi Germany was Christian so what the heck are you talking about Kate?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  9. maybeagnosticmaybenot

    How ironic that the pope woul blame "aristocracy of the Temple" .

    March 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I don't know for sure, but that may be funny 🙂

      March 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Atheo-logic

      The pope doesn't exist. He can't be infallible therefore he doesn't exist, and no part of him can have any truth within him. You're all idiots for thinking that's him you see in the picture. I can tell by his acorn hat that he's really a Druid priest spreading his arms and trying to prove he can fly just like Superman. What a joke, Nobody can fly like Superman; not even Batman.

      March 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  10. Paul

    can't kill someone who never existed. ZING!!.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Jim

      Amazing how many historically ignorant people there are here at CNN..

      March 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Just Here?

      This ain't the only place.

      March 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  11. CJ

    His book I'm sure is based on no historical or archaeological sources, as there basically are none, and the few that exist are not verified; sounds like this Jesus guy probably lived, but who knows, and who cares? Time to focus on healing this land, not fantasyland...

    March 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  12. RONNIE

    I disagree with his popiness! The jes have always been murderers and now terrorist.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  13. CM

    If we understand anything at all about Jesus, His sacrifice for humanity and His love, no so-called Christian would blame the Jews for killing Jesus; it's the sins of all humanity that killed Jesus!!!

    March 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  14. doubt it

    What group killed what fictional character is really neither here nor there. Another argument, just as logical, is who killed superman?

    March 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jim

      AQmazingly enough a historicaly illiterate or ignorant poster makes a claim of fiction....
      Historians know Jesus walked the Earth, even the Roman Empire admitted as such early on (Tacitus in approx. AD 110-113).
      Amazing how the ignorant are the most opinionated and vocal....

      March 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Kevin

      If you would take some time and research, you would find that there definitely was a jesus, historically speaking. Posting about things you are clearly under-informed of is not a good idea.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • CJ

      There is still doubt, though he probably was historical...BUT – very little evidence historically, none archaeologically, none from non-christian objective sources...from a history PhD...

      March 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  15. big tuna

    baby jesus had immaculate p00p ~ it did not smell !

    March 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • bigD

      big tuna that was hilarious!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • No No No !

      Miraculous is the proper word.

      March 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  16. Cyrus

    Let's blame the Muslims for Jesus's death. 🙂

    March 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Zoro Rides Again - I Give You Fire

      Cyrus you know you started so much of this, thinking you could let those Hebrews in Babylon go home after they learned about your angels, devils, good and bad Gods etc. As King of Kings, with that beehive crown you passed on to the pope, and your God's son/sun riding through the clouds with the Sun as his halo, yeah you know the one I'm talking about, Mithras – the one the Roman soldiers followed so closely before they merged his attributes into these tales of Jesus. You should have known these desert people would take it all too literal after being out in the hot sun so long and so often. Now look what you've done, oh wise one. Do you know how far those Essenes took your Sons of light and Sons of darkness ideas? Even after all that, your descendents still sent the Magi your Persian magician priests right at the beginning of the New Testament, to stir the pot some more and try to make trouble for the Roman's puppet king. You know they chased Jesus into Egypt foiling you plan with Egyptian life after death ideas. Now what a stew we have. Maybe you should have been the one crucified for mixing rerligion and politics. What's that? It's always been that way? Well yes. Now that I think about it, you're right. That changes things. hmmm

      March 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  17. Kris

    The Jews wanted Jesus killed for several reasons but the most crucial one was they Jesus indicated He was the Son of God and the Son of Man – making Him equal to God which the Jewish elite took as blasphemies. The Jews were expecting a King (a warrior) but not someone the likes of Jesus. Jesus also taught and knew things no one else could possibly have know and to top it off He did many miracles that angered the Jewish elite as well. They feared being displaced from their "royal place" as the Jewish elite.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Peter

      All of what you mention may have been on the minds of those who wanted Jesus "taken out," but the real reasons were more political than that. The Hebrews enjoyed a relative autonomy that many other parts of the empire did not under Roman rule. Jesus was a rabble rouser, a trouble maker, and was becoming a political nightmare when he spoke out against Roman rule. If the Romans felt that the Pharisees were not able to control their own people, they might be subjected to harsher Roman subjugation, and that would have been bad. What happened at Masada about a century later is exactly what the Pharisees were afraid of.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Joe

      What you say is true. But we can't group the actions of a few and blame everyone who knew them and even their ancestors. It's like saying – "an American committed a crime so all American's are guilty".

      One important thing to mention here is that Jesus himself knew what was going to happen and did nothing to defend himself or stop it. He knew it had to happen and it did. We can't blame Jews or Italians (Romans).

      March 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Jim

      Peter,

      Your theory ounds great but it fits none of the facts of history. The reason there wasn't more written about Jesus during His lifetime was for precisely the reason that debunks your theory – He wasn't a political threat.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  18. Kate

    IF Jews continue to deny Christianity's view of Jesus as a prophet of God THEN Jews cannot complain when governments or religions deny the holocaust.

    Benedict writes, "the circle of prosecutors pursuing the death of Jesus" is the "aristocracy of the Temple," or the priesthood demanded that Roman governor Pontius Pilate have Jesus crucified.

    But, when a government acts, it acts in the name of all people it represents. When the Pope acts in the name of the Catholic religion he acts in the name of all members of that religion. So, it only stands to reason that the Jewish leaders acting in the name of their religion were acting on behalf of all judeans. Roman governor Pontius Pilate was Jewish and he ordered Jesus to be crucified.

    Jews castigate anyone who even hint about anything that conflicts with the Jewish view of the holocaust. And yet, Jews refuse to even acknowledge that Jesus, the basis of the Christian religion ever existed as a prophet of God.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • ThereisnoGod

      There is no proof that Jesus or even God ever or does exist. The Bible is no more proof of their existence as Harry Potter is of the existence of wizards...both were written by men and are a work of fiction.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bannister

      Huh? The two things have nothing to do with each other.

      I agree that Jews are super-sensitive about the Holocaust. But that doesn't mean they have to acknowledge Jesus as a prophet. Personally, I don't believe in the official story of Jesus OR the official story of the Holocaust!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The holocaust is provable, your god is not. If Jesus existed, he was just a man and died as one. The holocaust was a real event without any doubts. All religions disagree with each other. The holocaust is not a religious belief or even related to religion but to ethnicity.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      What?! There aren't any wizards? I'm crushed.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Seriously!

      The proof you are looking for comes as a result of personal experience. If you ask God to prove to you that He exists, then He will show himself to you. It actually says that in the bible.

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

      Yeah, governments always act in the name of all the people they represent. Thank goodness. For a minute there, I wasn't certain I was in favor of bailing out AIG, continuing the war in Afghanistan and raising taxes to pay for it all - but I must be. And, ThereisnoGod, I'm glad your narrow view makes you feel better. I'm also glad you capitalized the G, in spite of yourself. 🙂

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

      Kate, you really do write a lot of crap.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • lisa

      Going by your argument, the American people are all 100% responsible for everything our government has ever done. You accept responsibilty for both George Bush's and Barack Obama's decisions. Illogical. We, that live today, are not responsible for slavery, nor all Germans living today responsible for the Holocaust. Nor are Italians responsible for the behavior of Caligula or Nero!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Seriously!,
      "If you ask God to prove to you that He exists, then He will show himself to you."
      Seriously? That's never worked for me.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • a little sad

      I wasn't alive when the holocaust occurred, but as a child, I knew many who were, and were first hand witnesses.

      I never met anyone who was alive when Jesus was around.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Chris

      Oh, and the Harry Potter books were written by one woman. Though, you are correct, the Bible was written down by several men - parts of it many years after 30ish A.D. That doesn't mean there isn't a great deal of truth in the lessons it teaches.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Mrs. Pogo

      You're a blind idiot.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • cecilia

      and if you take an apple and an orange – you really do not know what you are talking about. there is no comparison between the Holocaust and belief in Jesus Christ – you need to do some studying before you jump in here

      March 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Kate,
      So where are the photos of the crucifixion? We can compare them with all the photos of Auschwitz(sp?) , Treblinka, Sobibor, etc.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Gus

      That's perhaps the least Christ-like thing I've read in this sea of hateful, bigoted comments. If there is a hell, it waits for you.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • ThereisnoGod

      @Chris

      Are you a moron or just being a smart a$$? Look at the dictionary and you will see that MAN and MEN can also mean mankind and not just a male human. Also, yes the Bible does have great lessons and advice but it does not make it divine.
      The biggest proof that there is no God (at best) or that he doesn't give a peanut about humanity (at worst) is that millions of innocent men, women and children die each and every year of hunger, disease and violence. Many if not all of them praying to their God until their very last breath...for nothing. In the mean time evil SOB's that are responsible for serious crimes agains humanity live a life of luxury; Castro, Chavez, Bush, etc...

      March 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      The bible is mostly rehashed Egyptian, Greek and Babylonian myths. The death camps were real. You can go see them as well as still talk to the victims with their tattooed serial numbers on their arms. Show me god in person, perform a couple of quick miracles, and I'd be happy to believe in god. Until then, you can't look at what is going on in the world and tell me there is a god. What happened to the god that killed everything on the face of the planet but for the contents of noah's ark? Have not the behaviors of humanity been deserving of another flush since then? More people on this planet believe in other gods, are they wrong? What makes christianity any more right than the buhdists or hindus or some other animist religion that predates them all?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Jim

      ting,

      Your are a purveyor of historical propaganda, historians know Jesus lived in 2st century Israel. Roman historian (and fellow self-proclaimed supporter of persecution of Xians) Tacitus (AD 110-113) wrote about how Jesus was killed under Pilate.

      Your posts remind me of an old Baptist joke, "our preacher may not always be right but he is never in doubt." Fits you to a tee my friend.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • sheba

      Nonimus,
      If I were God, I wouldnt perform any miracle for you cause I really do not want you in my place!!. You clearly were not seeking him and had the guts to come and lie.. so good riddance.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Chris

      ThereisnoGod, if you can't even pick up the lesson on how words - even one degree later, so to speak - can be misinterpreted, you probably shouldn't be commenting on matters of this gravity.

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

      @sheba
      "If I were God, I wouldnt perform any miracle for you cause I really do not want you in my place!!. You clearly were not seeking him and had the guts to come and lie.. so good riddance."

      First, you don't know me, so *clearly* you have no basis to judge my intent.
      Second, you claim to compare yourself to God, or put yourself in His place. Doesn't that conflict with at least one commandment?
      Third, it was said, "If you ask God to prove to you that He exists, then He will show himself to you," without qualification and it didn't work.
      Fourth, if you are saying that one must believe for it to work, then it doesn't really mean anything. If you believe before you ask then you already are convinced He exists. If you don't believe, then "you clearly were not seeking him..."
      Fifth, I did not lie.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @sheba,
      Oh, sixith, is this really a good Christian att.itude?
      "so good riddance"

      March 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • CJ

      There is still doubt, though he probably was historical...BUT – very little evidence historically, none archaeologically, none from non-christian objective sources...from a history PhD...

      March 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Jim

      ting continues to spout historical lies.... or ting is just plain ignorant...

      March 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  19. ThereisnoGod

    If you put your son inside the lions cage and the lion eats your son...do you blame the lion? No you don't YOU are the idiot.
    So God put Jesus on this planet knowing men would kill him...so who's to blame here then?

    Except...

    All of the above is a fairy tale and the is no such thing as God.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Kris

      Don't worry – God doesn't believe in atheists either.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jay0061010

      And considering God "invented" the lions in the first place as well... As far as fiction goes, this is subpar

      March 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • doubt it

      Well Kris, that pretty much goes against everything that the religious people would like to lead everyone to believe doesn't it?
      Are have I been mistaken my whole life when I heard repeatedly from multiple sources that "God loves everyone equally".

      Thank you for discounting your own statement.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Kris
      "Don't worry – God doesn't believe in atheists either."
      Figures, don't believe the evidence staring him in the face.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jim

      zzzzz...

      March 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Joe

      Don't you just hate it when people try to push their beliefs on you? Such as the radical atheists like you who enjoy telling everyone their beliefs without respecting the beliefs of the rest of us.

      We get it. You don't believe in god and you think you're right – probably about everything. Fine. That's your right. But this story isn't about your beliefs now is it?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      Oompa Loompa's don't believe in athiests either.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Seraphim0

      ThereisnoGod- Why on earth would you go to a belief blog just to troll people? It's not like they're trying to force beliefs on you here... but you have to come in (and a sickening number of others like you) and just troll. I was raised catholic, but I do not follow christian beliefs anymore... but there's no need to come and harp on people for what they believe. If you don't give them respect, why should they respect your views?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Anita

      to ThereisnoGod.. nobody is blaming the jews or anybody. You are correct that God on his own free will came for the purpose of paying the price for those who want to believe. It is clear in the Bible that he came to die. He even forgave the people who were responsibile for his death on the cross. So you really dont have a point there.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Wonderin

      If God knew he would survuve the death, then what's the big deal? What was actually sacrificed for us? The idea he came down and suffered the morons for so many years? Did he feel pain if he was God, the way we would? Or was the pain more that his message was crucified, always has been and always will be, except for those that use an ounce of brain to try and understand? Of course all this is assuming it really did happen and wasn't just copied from so many other similar tales of the time. Then again, even a good mystery, has a worthwhile meaning.

      March 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  20. John

    These religious stories always bring out the nut jobs!

    March 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jim

      Such as yourself?

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

      Love your answer Jim!!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • big tuna

      Jim and anita can breed and make some little eyes glazed overs

      March 2, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jim

      sorry Charlie....

      March 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
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