World Jewish Congress hails Pope’s rejection of Jewish guilt for crucifixion of Jesus

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder has praised Benedict XVI for setting an important marker against anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church. In his new book on the life of Jesus, the Pope explained that references in the Christian New Testament which blame collectively “the Jews” referred to only a few Temple officials at the time. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder declared: “For many centuries, Jews suffered from brutal persecution and anti-Semitism because Christians held them collectively responsible for the killing of Jesus Christ – even though he was himself a Jew and crucified by the Roman rulers. Two thousand years after the event it really was high time that the head of the Catholic Church made a clear statement on this. It sets an important marker against anti-Semitism in the Church.”

However, Lauder warned that many Catholic clerics would continue to publicly advocate theories of Jewish deicide until the Pope issued an official letter, or encyclical, to that end. “Despite the 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration, which also rejected the notion of Jewish guilt in relation to the death of Jesus and said that the ‘Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God’, many in the Catholic world have continued to espouse ideas of Jewish guilt. Refuting their fallacious arguments in a personal book, whilst right, is probably insufficient. This must become official Church doctrine, from top to bottom,” the WJC president remarked.

Lauder nonetheless praised Benedict XVI for realizing the importance of this and other matters to Catholic-Jewish dialogue, and for speaking out regularly and authoritatively against anti-Semitism. “Jews around the world value greatly that this Pope is absolutely serious about having a good relationship between Christians and Jews and is not just paying lip service to it,” he declared.

Since becoming president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder has been received by Pope Benedict XVI twice. Their last meeting took place in December 2010 (see picture above).

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