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Pope Benedict declares that Jewish people not responsible for Jesus’ death

by Jorge Hernandez on March 3, 2011

In 1965, the Catholic Church officially rejected the idea that the Jewish people were responsible for the death of Jesus, and Pope Benedict XVI has decided to reiterate that point in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth – Part II, according to BBC.

Many have hailed the move as a groundbreaking step in relations between people of Jewish and Catholic faith. The Pope's announcement comes after painstaking analysis of the Gospels of John and Matthew, as well as texts that cover the hours that preceded Jesus' death.

"Now we must ask: Who exactly were Jesus' accusers?" he says, the news source reports. "How could the whole people have been present at this moment to clamor for Jesus' death?"

He added that only a small group of people were actually responsible for the death of Jesus and, when John refers to "the Jews" in his gospel, he is actually referring to the temple's aristocracy.

Various groups that fight anti-semitic sentiments, such as the Anti-Defamation League and World Jewish Congress, have recognized the Pope's remarks as an important step forward.

"This is a personal repudiation of the theological underpinning of centuries of anti-Semitism," said Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, according to the news source.

Pope Benedict hopes that will help curb antisemitism for a new generation of Catholics, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Jesus of Nazareth – Part II will be released on March 10.

Benedict has come under fire from some Jewish groups because of his membership in the Hitler Youth during World War II. One of his most controversial moves was the 2009 ardoning of a bishop who denied all of the facts of the Holocaust.

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