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Pope Paul Says Jews Killed Christ, but Jesus Did Not Curse Them

Pope Paul VI declared here yesterday, while delivering his Passion Sunday Lenten sermon, that Christ had been killed by the Jews, but that the Jews did not know who Jesus was. He emphasized that Christ himself “did not curse those who crucified Him, but invoked the Father’s forgiveness because they did not know what they were doing.”

The Pontiff took as his theme, in conducting a large outdoor mass, the Passion Sunday Gospel which tells of Christ talking with the Jewish teachers in Jerusalem who doubted his divinity and who “took up stones against him.” Pope Paul called the Gospel: “a grave and sad page because it narrates the conflict, the clash between Jesus and the Hebrew people, a people predestined to await the Messiah but who, just at the right moment, not only did not recognize Him but fought Him, abused Him and finally killed Him.”

Referring to the killing of Christ as “that absurd tragedy of the failed recognition.” Pope Paul–according to the official transcript of his sermon provided here today by the Vatican’s organ, Osservatore Romano–asked: “Why does the Lord find so many enemies? Why does the Gospel not find the world’s friendship after 20 centuries?” The official version quoted the Pope as answering: “It is because there is still much ignorance in the world regarding Christ. Indeed, He Himself, on the cross, instead of cursing his killers, prayed to his Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing.”