ADL: Pope's acquittal of Jews 'historic'
By exonerating Jews in death of Jesus, Benedict XVI is moving ahead with implementing the second phase of Vatican II, Anti-Defamation League says in special statement
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed as “an important and historic moment” the publication of a new book by Pope Benedict XVI that includes a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus.
Pope Benedict’s book, “Jesus of Nazareth – Part II,” excerpts of which were released today, builds an argument against the anti-Jewish concept of “deicide” through a thorough reading and analysis of the Gospels, leading to his conclusion that there is no basis in scripture for the claim that Jews are collectively responsible for the death of Jesus.
The anti-Semitic deicide charge contributed to centuries of persecution of the Jewish people.
ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a special statement: "This is an important and historic moment for Catholic-Jewish relations, as Pope Benedict XVI is now moving ahead with implementing the second phase of Vatican II. It is especially significant because it deepens and gives historians context crucial in having the doctrine expressed in 'Nostra Aetate' translated down to the pews.
"The 1965 Second Vatican Council document 'Nostra Aetate' rejected the deicide charge on theological grounds. But continuing in this tradition with specificity, Pope Benedict has rejected the previous teachings and perversions that have helped to foster and reinforce anti-Semitism through the centuries.
"The fact that this pope is a theologian, and has served as a defender of the faith, makes this statement from the Holy See that much more significant for now and for future generations. He is continuing in the storied tradition of Pope John Paul II in rejecting the calumny of those charges and in taking 'Nostra Aetate' and Vatican II to the next level."
Netanyahu thanks pope for exoneration
PM says he has 'deep esteem' for Benedict XVI, whose new book refutes claim Jews killed Jesus
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday for his exoneration of the Jews for the death of Jesus Christ.
The pope says in his new book, 'Jesus of Nazareth-Part II' – excerpts of which were released Wednesday – that there is no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' death. "I commend you for rejecting in your new book the false claim that was used as a basis for the hatred of Jews for hundreds of years," Netanyahu wrote to the pontiff.
The prime minister added that he hopes "the clarity and bravery" shown by Benedict will strengthen relations between Jews and Christians worldwide and promote peace in the next generations. "I look forward to seeing you again soon and expressing my deep esteem for you personally," Netanyahu wrote. While the Catholic Church has for five decades taught that Jews weren't collectively responsible, Jewish scholars said Wednesday the argument laid out by the German-born pontiff, who has had his share of mishaps with Jews, was a landmark statement from a pope that would help fight anti-Semitism today.
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.
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.