Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Merkel joins Papal Holocaust row

Pope Benedict XVI
The Pope says the Holocaust "should be a warning for all"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the Vatican's clarifications over the readmission of a bishop who queries the Holocaust do not go far enough.

"In my opinion these clarifications are not yet sufficient," Mrs Merkel said.

A row erupted last month after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who had said no Nazi gas chambers existed.

Pope Benedict has distanced himself from those beliefs and expressed "full and indisputable solidarity" with Jews.

"This should not be allowed to pass without consequences," Mrs Merkel said at a news conference in Berlin.

"This is not just a matter, in my opinion, for the Christian, Catholic and Jewish communities in Germany but the Pope and the Vatican should clarify unambiguously that there can be no denial," she said.

Vatican 'unaware'

Last November, British-born Bishop Williamson angered Jewish leaders across the world when he told Swedish TV: "I believe there were no gas chambers [during World War II]."

Richard Williamson's interview

He said he believed that up "300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers".

He is one of four bishops, who are members of the Society of Pius X, whose excommunication was lifted last month by the Pope.

The Society of St Pius X was founded by a French Archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, in 1970 as a protest against the Second Vatican Council's reforms on religious freedom and pluralism.

The Vatican says it was unaware of Bishop Williamson's views on the Holocaust when the decision was made to readmit the group.

About six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

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