Wednesday, February 04, 2009

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Vatican responds in row over Holocaust
Published Date: 04 February 2009
By Ethan McNern

POPE Benedict has hit back in unusually strong terms at allegations that he holds any sympathy with Holocaust deniers.

Statements issued yesterday were prompted by comments from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was reacting to the outcry over the Pope's rehabilitation of four traditional Catholic bishops, including one who denies the extent of the Holocaust.

. . .She said: "It is a fundamental question if, through a decision by the Vatican, the impression arises that the Holocaust can be denied."This is about the Pope and the Vatican making very clear that there can be no (Holocaust] denial and that there must be positive relations with Judaism," said Merkel.

Ms. Merkel said that the Vatican had not yet given such clarifications.The German-born Pope has caused a furore with his lifting of the excommunications, including that of Richard Williamson, a Briton who denies there were gas chambers and says no more than 300,000 Jews died in concentration camps. An estimated six million European Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

The Vatican quickly hit back, however, saying the Pope's position on the Holocaust and Holocaust denial "could not be any clearer".

In a statement, the Vatican's spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said the Pope's thoughts on the Holocaust had been expressed "very clearly" in his speech at the Cologne synagogue in August 2005, and at Auschwitz in 2006 and last week, where his words were "unequivocal".

Mr Lombardi said: "The condemnation of declarations which deny the Holocaust could not have been any clearer."

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