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Jim wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Why is Pontius Pilate named specifically in the Nicene Creed during Mass?
  • I understand that he was the political figure that played a deciding role in Christ's execution, (if even only by washing his hands and letting the people decide) but why do we as Catholics specifically mention him and ignore the role or mention of Judas, or Herod, for that matter?
  • On a similar note, if we are to forgive as good Catholics/Christians, then why does the Church continue to hold onto what Pilate did?



  { Why do we as Catholics specifically mention Pontius Pilate and ignore the role Judas or Herod? }

Richard replied:

Hi Jim,

The reason for mentioning Pilate is not to cast blame, but to set the time of the event.

Christianity, unlike some of the other religions that arose in the Mediterranean in the same era, centers on historical events that happened once, not mythic tales of recurring cycles.

— RC

Mike replied:

Hi Jim,

  • In addition to what Richard said, don't we mention both Herod, Judas, and Caiaphas, for that matter, in the Passion Play we celebrate annually on Good Friday?

It's not as if these characters are forgotten figures in Church history.


John replied:

Hi, Jim —

First, the Church isn't a holding a grudge but we don't change the words of the Creed because it come from the Church.

Secondly, there are multiple reasons for mentioning Pilate in the Creed.

  1. Pilate was a secular historical figure. By naming him and the event in the Creed, you are putting the events of the Creed in a specific time, place, and history.

    • So what Jesus are we talking about?

      The Jesus that lived in such and such a year and was condemned by this historical figure, and which Rome, the greatest worldly authority of the day, kept records of. Again, you got to remember, the Creed goes back to 325 A.D.

  2. The other reason Pilate is mentioned is to point out that Christ submitted himself to be judged by human authority, even though He was above it.


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