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Pope Benedict XVI is really taking pains to dispel that whole "Jews have the blood of Christ on their hands" thing. On March 10, Benedict will publish a book in which he argues--apparently at length, and with multiple citations of Scripture--that Jews, as a people, bear no blame for the death of Jesus.

The book, Jesus of Nazareth Part II, is a volume of Benedict's reflections on the life and teachings of Christ. Excerpts have already been made available, according to the Associated Press, and they show that Benedict goes out of his way to emphasize that Christ was killed by a handful of individuals who happened to be Jewish and it's wrong to hold Jews collectively responsible for Christ's death.

The pope isn't breaking new ground here for the Catholic Church. The Nostra Aetate, a document published by the Vatican in 1965, made essentially the same argument. But Benedict lays out what the AP calls "a thorough, Gospel-by-Gospel analysis" in support of his point, one that "leaves little doubt that he deeply and personally believes it to be the case."

Benedict's relationship with the Jewish community has been spotty in the past. There was that business about getting conscripted into the Hitler Youth, for example, and the 2009 incident where he lifted the excommunication of a bishop who'd claimed that Jews were never gassed in the Holocaust. It would be unfair to claim that Benedict doesn't believe the argument he advances in his upcoming book, but it's also hard not to see it as a bit of a PR move. For good measure, Benedict should probably issue a papal edict reminding Charlie Sheen and John Galliano that Jews aren't trying to hijack the 2012 Olympics logo.

Meanwhile, in other religious-revisionism news, a body of Catholic bishops has taken the time to blue-pencil the Bible, removing the word "booty"--as in, things pirates and crusaders steal--and replacing it with "spoils," presumably because of stuff like this.

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