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Pope's new book: Violence never in God's name

Pope Benedict XVI salutes the faithful during the traditional Ash Wednesday mass in the St. Sabina church in Rome Wednesday, March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Danilo Schiavella, POOL)
Pope Benedict XVI salutes the faithful during the traditional Ash Wednesday mass in the St. Sabina church in Rome Wednesday, March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Danilo Schiavella, POOL) (Danilo Schiavella - AP)

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By NICOLE WINFIELD
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 1:44 PM

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI rejects the idea of Jesus as a political revolutionary and insists that violent revolution must never be carried out in God's name in a new book that was released Thursday amid great fanfare at the start of Lent.

"Jesus of Nazareth - Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection," is the second installment of Benedict's planned trilogy on Jesus. Part I, which covered Jesus' early ministry, shot to the top of the best-seller lists in Italy when it was published in 2007.

Already, 1.2 million copies of Part II have been printed in seven languages, editions in Arabic, Greek, Korean and Japanese are planned, and reprints of 100,000 more are planned for the Italian editions and 50,000 in German.

At the official launch Thursday, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Vatican's office for bishops, said he felt he was living in a "historic moment" because the book was ushering in a new era of theological analysis that blended faith with history.

"Even if the author stops himself from offering an official teaching of the church, it's easy to imagine that his scientific authority and his profound handling of certain disputed questions will be a great help to confirm the faith in many people," he said.

To underline the significance of the event, the pope's personal secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein attended the presentation.

In the book, Benedict exonerates the Jews as a people for Christ's death. He also insists that Jesus never advocated violent revolution, as some liberation theologians have suggested, saying violence was not his way no matter how idealistic the motivation.

Benedict has spoken out frequently to denounce religiously motivated violence against Christians in the Middle East, Pakistan and elsewhere. "The cruel consequences of religiously motivated violence are only too evident to us all," he noted in the book.

"Violence does not build up the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. On the contrary, it is a favorite instrument of the Antichrist, however idealistic its religious motivation may be," Benedict wrote. "It serves, not humanity, but inhumanity."

The Vatican and its foreign-language publishers have gone to remarkable lengths to promote the new book, coordinating the release of excerpts, scheduling prime-time news conferences and releasing the 362-page text to coincide with the run-up to Holy Week, when the faithful commemorate Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

The Rev. Giuseppe Costa, who heads the Vatican's publishing house, said that with the "marathon-like" publicity campaign under way, he believed that within a year the book will have outsold the first installment of "Jesus of Nazareth," which has been out for four years and sold 2 million copies.

In the book, Benedict concludes that while Jesus died for all of humanity, the Jews as a people weren't responsible for the death. Rather a few Jewish leaders and their supporters were to blame, he said, affirming that the centuries of mistrust of Christians toward Jews was deeply misplaced.


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