LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A Southland rabbi says the Vatican has issued a “critically important” statement from Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday exonerating the Jewish people for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Rabbi Marvin Heir of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles tells KNX 1070 the statement is especially powerful coming from a German pope in a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise.

“Jews suffered historically for over 2,000 years — the call of Hitler and all the anti-Semites were that the Jews were an accursed people because they are responsible for the death of Jesus,” Heir said.

In “Jesus of Nazareth-Part II” excerpts released Wednesday, Benedict explains biblically and theologically why there is no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death.

Interpretations to the contrary have been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews.

“To have Pope Benedict say that the Jews bear no guilt whatsoever for the death of Jesus is one of the most critically important statements ever made by a pope,” Heir said.

The Catholic Church has for five decades taught that Jews weren’t collectively responsible, issuing its most authoritative teaching on the issue in its 1965 Second Vatican Council document “Nostra Aetate,” which revolutionized the church’s relations with Jews by saying Christ’s death could not be attributed to Jews as a whole at the time or today.

Benedict comes to the same conclusion, but he explains how with a thorough, Gospel-by-Gospel analysis that leaves little doubt that he deeply and personally believes it to be the case: That only a few Temple leaders and a small group of supporters were primarily responsible for Christ’s crucifixion.

The book is the second installment to Benedict’s 2007 “Jesus of Nazareth,” his first book as pope, which offered a very personal meditation on the early years of Christ’s life and teachings. This second book, set to be released March 10, concerns the final part of Christ’s life, his death and resurrection.

The Vatican’s publishers provided a few excerpts Wednesday.

In the book, Benedict re-enacts Jesus’ final hours, including his death sentence for blasphemy, then analyzes each Gospel account to explain why Jews as a whole cannot be blamed for it. Rather, Benedict concludes, it was the “Temple aristocracy” and a few supporters of the figure Barabbas who were responsible.

“How could the whole people have been present at this moment to clamor for Jesus’ death?” Benedict asks.

He deconstructs one particular biblical account which has the crowd saying, “His blood be on us and on our children” — a phrase frequently cited as evidence of the collective guilt Jews bore and the curse that they carried as a result.

The phrase, from the Gospel of Matthew, has been so incendiary that director Mel Gibson was reportedly forced to drop it from the subtitles of his 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ,” although it remained in the spoken Aramaic.

But Benedict said Jesus’ death wasn’t about punishment, but rather salvation. Jesus’ blood, he said, “does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all.”

Benedict, who was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a child in Nazi Germany, has made improving relations with Jews a priority of his pontificate. He has visited the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland and Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

But he also has had a few missteps that have drawn the ire of Jewish groups, most notably when in 2009 he lifted the excommunication of a traditionalist Catholic bishop who had denied the extent of the Holocaust by saying no Jews were gassed during World War II.

Benedict has said that had he known Bishop Richard Williamson’s views about Jews he never would have lifted the excommunication, which was imposed in 1988 because Williamson was consecrated without papal consent.

Williamson is a member of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which has rejected many Vatican II teachings, including the outreach to Jews contained in Nostra Aetate.

Separately, Jewish groups have been outraged that Benedict is moving Pope Pius XII closer to beatification, the first main hurdle to possible sainthood. Some Jews and historians have argued the World War II-era pope should have done more to prevent the Holocaust.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (47)
  1. Jack Gomez says:

    Typical Jews always wanting to wash their hands !! YES YOU ARE GUILTY OF THE DEATH OF JESUS !! EVEN IM GUILTY HE DIED FOR FOR ME AND YOU !!

    1. cloudnine says:

      DITTO 🙂

    2. se says:

      Yes Senor Gomez, this Jesus character certainly died just for me 3000 years ago. I’m so happy that Nazi pedo exonorated the Jews; that really means a lot.

    3. Pam says:

      In the first place, Jesus was a Jew and in the second place, you are a complete idiot. Jesus didn’t die for you or for me or for anyone. He was just a man and his mother was not a virgin. But you are obviously just another sheep believing in hatred and fairy tales. Typical christian, full of hate. And no, I’m not Jewish. I was raised Catholic, but, fortunately, I’m smart and not a follower of fairy tales.

      1. t says:

        Pam how do you know that Jesus did not die for our sins, he was just a man, and his mother was not a virgin? I’ll wait for a valid response but I have a feeling I am going to be waiting for a long time?

      2. cloudnine says:

        Pam unfortunately seems to have a lot of hate in her heart 🙁 just her comments alone shows that. It’s sad. Look at the comments below all she does is promate hate & anger. Not Nice 🙁

      3. Krissy says:

        Wow Pam your comment is a tad hateful in and of itself…. Personally I feel the Bible is a book compiled of what the religous zealots of the time wanted people to believe. Man picked and chose what he wanted in the holy book not God, so I agree with you on some points. I do have to say that I wouldn’t take much creedence in what a Pope who hides and defends pedofiles has to say.

      4. Lenny says:

        @ t @ cloudnine @ krissy
        Yes this Pam does seem to have a lot of anger. I felt her wrath on a previous discussion.
        She was probably brought up by strict nuns and that our fault.

      5. Jack Gomez says:

        I SEE HOW SMART YOU ARE ….. 🙂

      6. Lenny says:

        Nah I’m just dumb Lenny

  2. Fernando says:

    Go jerk off into a bible you anti-Semitic prick.

    1. cloudnine says:

      why get so angry 🙁

  3. NK Dudek says:

    How little you know about your Savior…even the “guilt” of His persecution, suffering and crucifixion has been redeemed on behalf of all mankind…and He did not “die”.

  4. NK Dudek says:

    The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ were all a part of His Father’s holy plan for salvation. Therefore any mortals who were the instruments of His plan were merely used to bring it about, and were not to “blame” for Christ’s “death”. We do not need anyone, including the Catholic Pope, to tell us that…it simply IS. But I suppose it’s nice to hear from such a lofty source if you happen to have been taken in by the fallacy that the “Jews killed Christ”.

    1. Krissy says:

      A lofty source??? A religious figure head who obviously condones, defends and hides pedofiles???? Wow we should all just fall to our knees and kiss his ring right? No its not the Jews fault, this is rediculous to even discuss LOL

  5. Abdurahman ibn Khattab says:

    Condescending, disgusting. There were no Jesus and therefore there was no crime. Imagine how it feels to be falsely accused of crime, one that actually never occurred at that? And even if there were a character or many people on whom Jesus story was based who were executed for crimes, who is this arrogant fool to judge without knowing facts on the matter?
    While I am at it why don’t I forgive you for killing all unicorns, and not leaving cookies and milk for Santa Clause? Also I exonerate England for killing Joan of Arc (at least she really existed and really suffered a painful death)

    1. cloudnine says:

      will be praying for you 🙂
      How sad to live a life like yours. You must be a very sad angry person.
      God Bless 🙂

      1. Pam says:

        You really do live on cloudnine. Must be wonderful to be so ridiiculous. How sad for you to live a life of idiocy! Condescending jerk. You are a very, sad, stupid, angry dope.

      2. cloudnine says:

        Oh Pam I’m here smiling & praying for you too 🙂 See what I mean. Just by the way you commented it shows how much anger you have in your heart..Look at the words you state in your comment. Do you think a happy person would say such things to a person who is not even promoting hate. SAD 🙁

    2. jack says:

      cloudnine is right.
      Your post reveals a disturbed nature. You must have really issues, angry at the world for your failures and shortcomings maybe.

    3. Krissy says:

      Wow, so if you call folks who condemn the Jewish people Anit-Sematic… What do you call you for condeming the Christian faith? So my dear Abdurahman, you too are guilty of religous prosecution. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

  6. charlie says:

    Jesus did not die for our sins, he died because his followers were WEAK. They did nothing but stand there while he was crucified.

    1. Jack says:

      And I suppose a few guys could stand up to the Roman army? You’re an idiot.

  7. Steven Wangberg says:

    Go civilize yourself. It’s a whole bunch of nonsense.

  8. travis says:

    I am part Jewish, and it is a fact that Jesus was Jewish. Jesus was born and lived with the idea and purpose to die for all our sins. For anyone to take an angle that Jews were Jesus killers are missing the whole point of that in fact Jesus was Jewish and lived by the design of what transpired. We are all human beings living under the same sky. We should love everyone as equals.

    1. jack says:

      Still, the Jewish leaders plotted to kill him for months, they pressured the Romans into killing him.
      They even had a chance to let him go, but they chose to release Barabbas and kill Jesus. .

      1. travis says:

        It was all by god’s design. Again no one killed Jesus because he arose from the dead… The Jews are correct in the belief that they didn’t kill Jesus, no race or anyone ever could to that.

      2. Krissy says:

        Wow Jack…. Where you actually there and know this for fact?? LOL You peeps kill me. Hey I have some seaside property in Utah I’ll see you for cheap!

    2. Nick says:

      I agree with you travis, then let’s burn the ZOHAR AND the TALMUD (Holy BOOKS OF THE jews)

      1. travis says:

        Why burn those books. Jews believe in God, which essentially is who Jesus was. When people just look at the act of what was done to Jesus’ physical body, they are missing the whole point that in fact what they did was facilitate the resurrection. You can’t think of Jesus as only a human being who died, because only his earthly body did. Jews did not kill Jesus because he arose from the dead. Therefore the Jews did not kill Jesus. It’s a fruitless argument to say that they did.

  9. cloudnine says:

    Look when we are born into this world we have only one purpose. To glorify God our Lord Jesus.Our Savior. We are to Bless him in all that we do. We are not here to judge or point fingers to ANYONE. Remember this we are not promised today or tomorrow BUT ETERNITY is. Which side do you want to end up? Don’t let your words haunt you in the after life.

  10. Nick says:

    I wonder what’s the meaning of these words spoken by the Pharisee :” LET HIS BLOOD BE UPON US AND UPON OUR CHILDREN”S CHILDREN”?
    Looks to me like a curse for the jews as a whole.
    MOSES said: REPENT, “I am tired of you”

    1. travis says:

      translated, let god’s essence be in us always and forever, right down the line in all generations…

  11. tastellikechicken says:

    group hug?….anyone?

    1. cloudnine says:

      BIG HUG 🙂 & lots of LOVE 🙂

    2. Krissy says:

      LMAO…. Love it!

  12. Jack Gomez says:

    Through the centuries, the Jews have been blamed as being the ones who were responsible for Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Did the Jews really kill  Jesus Christ? No doubt the accusers of Jesus Christ were Jews, but it would be absurd to point to all the Jews in Judea as being accusers of Jesus Christ. Let’s not forget that “ multitudes,”  had followed and had seen Jesus Christ’s miracles over his 3 ½ years of preaching (Matthew 15:29-31). A great many had been healed from incurable diseases. Some had been brought back from the dead. A lot of Jews, consequently, felt nothing but gratitude toward this young miraculous preacher. Many religious leaders, on the other hand, were filled with envy and bitterness, because of Jesus Christ’s accusations and condemnations and, according to the Gospels, wished to get rid of Him in any way they could (Matthew 12:14).

    1. jack says:

      Precisely, we know it wasn’t the entire Jewish community who killed Jesus, just some of them wanted him dead, and took the necessary steps to make it so..

    2. cloudnine says:

      just like you said which started the debate 🙂 We are ALL responsible some how. We just have to make sure that we make HIM proud during our time on earth. 🙂
      I truly feel sorry for the ones who deny HIM. To compare him to a fairytale!
      That is what really saddens me. 🙁

  13. Krissy says:

    I personally have very strong convictions, I do however feel that organized religion is the root much evil and hate mongering, which saddens me horribly.

    1. cloudnine says:

      Religion dies when we do.

  14. Lenny says:

    Jesus walks.

  15. Nick says:

    @ Travis “why burn those books”? Because a lot of evil comes out from it. Search the following an you tube to see for yourself: “Abortion The Kosher Slaughter”.

    Also looking at your comment :”translated, let god’s essence be in us always and forever, right down the line in all generations…”, that’s NONSENSE. The Pharisee put CHRIST in the hands of the Romans to crucify HIM.
    But the GUILT belongs to those who came up with the idea of such thing.
    Why JEWS DOES NOT BELIEVE IN CHRIST then? EVEN MUSLIMS has RESPECT for HIM. How LOW these jews can be? They call NON-jews animals but excuse me they need to be animals first in order to give me and you such name.
    Jews knows they killed Christ, who are you to protect them? They will face universal war soon.

  16. os says:

    does nobody study history not written by the popery? Don’t trust these men – they will not change. Wait and see.

  17. Touch The Bubbles 3 says:

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