(BBC) Pope Benedict: Jewish people not guilty for Jesus' death

Pope Benedict has rejected the idea of collective Jewish guilt for Jesus Christ’s death, in a new book to be published next week.

Tackling an issue that has led to centuries of persecution, the Pope argues there is no basis in scripture for the Jewish people to be blamed.

The Catholic Church officially repudiated the idea in 1965.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

5 comments on “(BBC) Pope Benedict: Jewish people not guilty for Jesus' death

  1. Jon says:

    It’s a good thing for the Pope to say this, of course. But the BBC article is misleading in that it gives the casual reader the impression that this idea is the result of groundbreaking exegetical research. That’s of course always going to be the bias of a “news” organization (News Flash! Stunning pronouncement changes 2000 years of Christian teaching!). To say “Pope reaffirms again what many Christians from many communions have said for many centuries” — that’s not quite as sexy of a headline.

    Beneath the BBC article also lies a worldview based on the idea that human nature is not in itself a huge mess of email passions (“If you, being evil…”), but instead tries to explain terrible human evil on bad “ideas.” Centuries of terrible anti-Semitism must be traceable, the BBC and most people think, to some bad “ideas” early in Christian thought. If only we had had Pope Benedict around in the late first few centuries, he could have given us the right “idea” and then we could have been saved all those years of pogroms, and Inquisitions, and death camps! A more accurate reading of human history is the Christian aphorism from the late 1500s: What the heart desires, the will chooses and the mind justifies. People would have always have found some reason to commit terrible acts against a vulnerable people: anyone who remembers bullies in the schoolyard knows this intuitively. The BBC thinks that an idea comes first, the free human reason chooses it, and then one’s heart is based on the idea. Thomas Cranmer and others knew better.

  2. sophy0075 says:

    Jon, everything you say may be true, but unfortunately there are a lot of people in the world who have thought, even after Thomas Cranmer, Vatican II, and the Holocaust, that the Jews killed Jesus. They have used this evil and fallacious canard to commit reprehensible crimes, exclude deserving students from college (oh, yes, did you know that Harvard and Yale had Jew quotas in the 40s?), exclude would-be members from country clubs and would-be residents from housing communities?

    I’m glad you know the truth, but I’m even more glad that the current Pope is expressing the truth and that the secular BBC is broadcasting his statements. John did the Jewish people no favors by falsely incriminating them with his “the Jews” this and “the Jews” that in his gospel.

  3. Dcn. Michael D. Harmon says:

    Sigh. Of course the “disciple whom Jesus loved” falsely incriminated the entire Jewish people, of whom he was one, with persecution of the Messiah. This slur is almost as old as anti-Semitism itself. It is obvious reading the entirety of John’s Gospel that he uses “the Jews” to mean the Jewish leadership — precisely the same people that Pope Benedict identifies as the sole group persecuting Jesus. Anti-Semites make the broader claim to serve their purposes, of course, but Benedict disproves it.

  4. Ross says:

    If we’re going to undertake the fairly pointless exercise of “Who killed Christ?” then the Italians should get a share of the blame too.

    But really, of course, we all killed Christ — however you parse the Passion, whether as atonement or as Christus Victor or what-have-you, we are all the reason it was necessary.

  5. Jon says:

    That’s entirely correct, Ross. This is an old classic view held by many Christians from many communions — that in a very real sense we ALL voted for Barabbas on Good Friday. Each lash, each nail, each thorn has been wrought by me: my lust, lies, cruelty, pride has driven them in.

    I’m pretty sure Benedict would agree with this as well — though I can’t say since I haven’t read his stuff. The emphasis that the tiny temple leadership were the SOLE people persecuting Jesus seems to go the other direction (i.e. almost nobody is culpable, rather than all were) and seems to fail to make sense of the universal demand of the mob (Crucify Him!).

    But certainly Benedict is right that the idea that Jews AND NOT ME crucified the Lord is wildly wrong and has been opposed explicitly by loads of great Christian thinkers for centuries.