Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson must “unequivocally and publicly” change his views before he can be admitted to office in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Wednesday.
Marking a major U-turn for under-pressure Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican statement also said that Williamson’s remarks were “not known” to the German pontiff “at the moment of lifting the excommunication” of the Englishman and three other renegade bishops last month.
Williamson, 67, is on record as denying that the German Nazis used gas chambers to eliminate millions of Jews during World War II, saying only 200,000-300,000 Jews were killed in concentration camps.
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His remarks were made in an interview broadcast on Swedish television on January 22, the day after a papal decree lifted his excommunication but two days before the pope’s decision was made public.
Growing pressure from Jewish and Catholic organisations turned overtly political Tuesday when German Chancellor Angela Merkel became the first world leader to attack the German pope’s handling of the row.
Full story here.