Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just in time for Lent

Pope Benedict XVI's newest book, the second in a series on Jesus, is set to be released next Thursday. It's called Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. Excerpts of the book were released to the media today and the headlines on many news sites are something like: "Pope's New Book Exonerates Jews for the Death of Christ." Uhhh... yeah? What year is this that this is still "news"? Hate to break it to the mainstream media (which always seems befuddled when it comes to reporting about Catholic faith or morals), but this is nothing new.

Shortly after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Pope Paul VI promulgated a "post-conciliar declaration" entitled Nostra Aetate (Latin for "In Our Age"). This declaration made strong pronouncements that Jews are to be rightly considered the spiritual forebears of Christianity. In particular, it also states that: "what happened in [Christ's] passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today." So, while Pope Benedict's book is right to point out (and defend) this teaching, he does not claim it to be new. Leave it to the national media to go for the sensational over the truth.