Pope Benedict would like to be clear: the Jewish people as a whole were not responsible for the death of God's only son. The pope makes the sweeping exoneration in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth, excerpts of which were released today. In it, Benedict presents a biblical and theological analysis that explains why such an interpretation—which has been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews—is not true.
The statement isn't exactly a new one for the Vatican, which in 1965 released a document that firmly stated Jesus' death couldn't be attributed to Jews as a whole. But Jewish scholars welcomed the pope's argument, noting that the faithful are more likely to read commentary than old church documents, and saying it would help fight anti-Semitism. The book, the second installment to Benedict's 2007 Jesus of Nazareth, is set to be released March 10 and concerns the second half of Christ's life, his death, and resurrection, reports the AP.