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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. ABRU

    Who cares who killed Jesus?

    March 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Dennis

      It was the Bloods.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  2. Dennis

    Jesus was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Jesus was as dead as a door-nail.

    Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Jesus was as dead as a door-nail.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  3. Jesus

    I wasn't real

    no one killed me

    I was a mythological being, there are no less than 23 other stories with the same character in different cultures, including greek mythology which was written over 300 years before the old testament.

    I am a collection of borrowed myths

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

      weird...then how are you commenting on CNN boards? Or are we all mythological beings? Oh no, I am now questioning my very existence! How am I here? Am I real? AM I typing right now?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  4. Anti Cult

    The largest, richest, and most biased cult on Earth. Why are so many populating this insanity? Take your lips from the ring, get up off your knees, hug a tree – something G-d actually intended for us.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  5. Aesop

    I always thought the tortoise did him in – slow and steady.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  6. messenger

    It is a collective GUILT as it still IS at this VERY DAY IN TIME! Revelation 1:7 says, "Look he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and THOSE WHO PIERCED HIM, and ALL the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen. Jesus says, "YES I AM COMING QUICKLY"

    March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  7. Reality

    B16 like many suffers from the Three B Syndrome i.e. he was Bred, Born and Brainwashed in his religion. For this reason, he is unable to think past the shackles put upon him by the likes of Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

    The wishful thinking done by these five scribes approximately 2000 years ago continued the embellishment and fiction tradition of the Jewish scribes. The locals paid for a good story of myth and imminent second coming. There was no money in the truth but now we know the truth and it boils down to two simple statements, Do No Harm and Love Thy Neighbor as yourself.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  8. Alfredo

    Regardless of who killed Jesus it happened like 2000 plus years a go. Is anyone today in 2011 responsible for human death 2000 plus years ago. What about those friendly Romans, didn't they crucify frequently? This is all silliness. All the religions think they are right when in fact they're probably all wrong...

    March 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  9. Kathy from No. VA

    Jesus died because it was supposed to happen and happen the way it did. I'm an ex Catholic and a devout believer. Jews should never be blamed. Unless you study scripture, you can't really understand. Once you understand the love of Christ, your life will never be the same. Just read the Gospel of John and see. Jesus was real, he is/was God incarnate.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Pat

      and all other religions are wrong because mine is better than yours.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  10. hoos

    "pray in one hand and defecate in the other and let me know which one gets filled first" "how can you kill a fairy tale character"

    You guys aren't clever. You are welcome to be an agnostic or atheist but that does not make you intelligent. You all can pretend to be so possitive that Jesus didn't exist, that Christians are crazy, but you are providing very little evidence that you know better than everyone else. So everyone stop pretending that they are smarter than the room, and have figured it all out. You are all such rebels, so counter-culture, so much more intelligent than the average American. Grow up

    March 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • johnnyleen

      Extraordinary claims (such as people rising from the dead) require extraordinary proof.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  11. LouieD

    Sockpuppet: So atheists shouldn't read articles about religion? By that logic, pro-lifers shouldn't read articles about abortion, vegans shouldn't read articles about the fast food industry, and free market economists shouldn't read articles about socialism.

    How can anyone be persuaded to consider your beliefs if you display such blatantly flawed logic?

    March 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      No, but the comment boards are always disproportionately full of atheists, when an article isn't even debating whether the religious beliefs are real, but rather the individual beliefs within the system. ANd I wonder why it interests you so much when you feel it is so stupid? I don't click on stories about Katy Perry because I find her music insipid and I have no interest in her. WHy would you waste your time?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Religious sects

      Louie... sockpuppet WAS being snarky, just a sarcastic christian being snarky about atheists.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  12. Reality

    Christianity's "necessary accessories":

    Jesus like many was in the right place at the right time. There was a lot of economic-driven assistance and "necessary accessories" without which Jesus would have been just another forgotten Jewish radical.

    To wit:

    Paul of Taurus was first of the "necessary accessories". He recognized early on the great wealth of Roman and Greek Gentiles so he wrote his epistles raising Jesus and his embellished life from the dead and the Gentiles "ate it up". His promise of the imminent second coming was shear brilliance in gathering much silver and gold (the prime necessary accessory). The Romans got jealous ending the life of the first necessay accessory.

    Pilate, although not the founder of Christianity, was another "necessary accessory i.e. he could have easily sent Jesus to the salt mines.

    Constantine and his swords finished the "necessary accessory" scenario.

    Just think without Paul, Pilate and Constantine, there would be no Christianity!!! The better names, Paulianity, PPCianity, or just plain what??

    March 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  13. The Jackdaw

    When you are bored, spend some time comparing the attributes of the pantheon of Roman Gods to the pantheon of Catholic Saints. I promise an amusing time for you.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      HAHA, nobody bothers to reply to this because it would require work instead of baseless opinion. Humans are great.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      no I'm just not Catholic so it doesn't matter, plus it isn't exactly a news flash

      March 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  14. YBP

    And don't tell me that as a child you didn't question these Bible stories when you first heard them! Of course you did! But then you were indoctrinated. Brainwashed. Suddenly, it all made sense. The world was very simple and easy to understand. You knew who you were, what to believe, and where you were going after you die. It was a comfort. But the Gospel is not history. It's allegory.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  15. Religious sects

    I find history very interesting, and setting the historical record straight is very important. However since we are not responsible for the sins of our Fathers it really shouldn't change anyones attltude toward Christians or the Jewish. This does smell to me a bit more like an attempt at placating anyone who felt slighted by that version of history.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • johnnyleen

      I don't think you know much about Jewish history or you wouldn't refer to the pogroms and ghettos as being "slights".

      March 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Religious sects

      Johnny... I wasn't aware there are ghettos due to who was thought to have killed Jesus 2000 yrs ago? You are right, I don't know all of human history, but I'd love to know where to find this information.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  16. firebrand

    For those who think that Pope Pius XII "did little to save Jews from Hilter", I encourage you to google "Pave the Way Foundation" and look up their investigation of Pope Pius' Papacy. This organization is headed by a wonderful Jewish couple that I've met in person, and their research and efforts are very informative, healing, and edifying.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  17. sockpuppet

    Hi. I'm an atheist. I don't believe in "fairy tales" at ll, but every time I see an article that mentions religion in any way, it makes me veeeeeeeeeeery angry and I feel the need to click on it and make a snarky remark about Santa Claus. I don't know why it really really interests me to read religious articles. It's strange–I shouldn't care at all, and yet I do. Most of the time I don't even read the article, I just like to make nasty remarks about what other people hold sacred because it makes me feel superior. But really, I am wasting an awful lot of time on something I don't believe in. Somebody get me some therapy!

    March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Religious sects

      Your comment sounds like a Christian being snarky about Atheists ... and not very subtly BTW LOL

      March 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      that's my snarky comment for the day. Christians are allowed to be sarcastic too.

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

      Lol. How true.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Godless

      So that whole "Do unto others" thing has no meaning to you? "Turn the other cheek" is just a worthless saying?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Religious sects

      sockpuppet... I'm an Atheist that finds the historical facts within the bible very interesting .. and I found your comment funny & rightfully very accurate. Fair is fair afterall.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Jason

      Sockpuppet... I am a believer and that was a funny comment. It is sad that there are atheists. The theroy of evolution has no basis in fact. Every single point of evolution has either been proved not to be true or remains in theroy. For example it has been proven by many scientific studies that there has never been a mutation that has been positive. It makes me vomit when people refer to the earth as hundreds of millions of years old when in fact the earth is somewhere around 10,000 years old (you can figure out exactly how old the earth is by reading and recording the generations in the book of Genisis).

      March 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      Godless I never claimed to be sinless....I get tired of the endless rude condescending comments. This issue (who is to blame for Jesus's death) should be debated amongst Christians, since they believe Jesus died and rose from the dead in the first place. It's not for you. Most atheists don't even discuss the issue at hand, they go right into an attack of the whole premise. SO what's the point of atheists being in the conversation?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      "Somebody get me some therapy!"

      One night jesaaas will come in your dream and you will see the light! And then you wont reason anymore..This is your therapy my son, be patient and BELIEEEEVEEEEEE!!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Godless

      What's really sad is I can't tell if Jason's comments are serious or tongue in cheek. That's how crazy some of you sound.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      Godless despite what the media would lead you to believe, as they like to only report on one type of Christian, there are a wide variety of Christians with a wide variety of beliefs, and what one says does not hold to be true for us all. Do you really think that if we all sounded like that , there would be Christian scientists, philosophers, teachers, doctors, etc etc? It might be hard to believe, but you can be intelligent and Christian at the same time.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  18. Pat

    Good news. They're not responsible for priests molesting little boys, the Inquisitions, or the Catholic church attacking Galileo Galilei and heliocentrism either.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      The jews are not responsible for a not so flat earth either! Aye!!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  19. YBP

    We overlook the allegorical literary style of the Gospels because we do not have that kind of writing anymore. We miss the point. Gospels were like newsletters for very specific communities at a very specific place and time. We in the 21st Century, outside of the Middle East, long after the Fall of the Roman Empire, were not their intended audience. We never were! Even the names of the charcaters in the Gospels are allegorical: Yeshua means God Saves, Judas means Jew (get it?), Yahweh means I Exist (get it?). Even a child can see through this!

    March 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  20. ScottJ

    Jesus intended all along to be crucified. His disciples were the ones who thought He was crazy for wanting to die. They thought their Messiah was the powerful revolutionary of the Jewish tradition and couldn't comprehend why His dying was appropriate for the Son of God. Jesus repeatedly told them they didn't get it.

    Martyrdom had to happen to release the Spirit, fulfill prophecy and carry out God's plan. "Blame" is the wrong perspective.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • William

      oiy!

      March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Kathy from No. VA

      Amen!

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

      Believe that if you want to, but it doesn't make sense. It sounds more and more like a fairy tale as it goes on. yeah, Jesus intended to be crucified all along. Any idea what a reall crucifixion was like? It was nothing like what you've seen in art or on TV.

      March 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      When jesus was hung up on the cross he cried "Elai! Elai!! Ma Sabaqtani!!" translates to "Oh God! Oh God!! Why have thou forsaken me ?!"

      Does it sound llike a man willing/desiring to die ?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
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