Pope admits errors over bishop case

Pope Benedict XVI says the Vatican made mistakes over a Holocaust-denying bishop.

    Bishop Richard Williamson denies the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews during World War II [Reuters]

    "That this overlapping of two opposing processes took place and momentarily upset peace between Christians and Jews, as well as peace within the church, is something which I can only deeply deplore,'' he wrote.

    He thanked "all the more our Jewish friends'' for understanding his commitment to friendship.

    'Open hostility'

    The pope's move to explain his actions and admit wrongdoing is highly unusual in the church's history.

    "The letter is very personal, very anguished, very pained but very honest," said an Italian bishop who received it.

    The pope said that the Williamson affair unleashed a storm of "vehemence" which hurt him deeply, saying he was saddened that even Catholics "thought they had to attack me with open hostility".

    Reverend Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said the letter was "really unusual and deserving of maximum attention".

    Benedict angered Jewish leaders and many Catholics by lifting the excommunication of Williamson and three others in a bid to heal a 20-year-old schism within the church.

    The schism began in 1988 when the four were ordained without Vatican permission.

    World Jewish organisations and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, had criticised the pope for rehabilitating the British bishop.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.