ADL Says Pope Benedict's Exoneration of Jews in the Death of Jesus "Historical" and Builds On Vatican II

New York, NY, March 2, 2011 … 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.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following 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.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.