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Merkel: Pope must clarify Holocaust stance
Reuters – German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a special address to the participants of the World Economic Forum …
By MELISSA EDDY, Associated Press Writer
BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Pope Benedict XVI to make a "very clear" rejection of Holocaust denials after the Vatican's rehabilitation of a former bishop who questioned whether 6 million Jews were gassed by the Nazis.
Merkel's rare and public demand came amid increasing outrage among Germany's Roman Catholic leaders over the German-born pope's decision.
Merkel said she "does not believe" there has been adequate clarification of the Vatican's position on the Holocaust amid the controversy over the lifting of the excommunication of British-born Richard Williamson. ...
The Vatican moved quickly to counter Merkel's suggestion.
"The pope's thinking on the subject of the Holocaust has been expressed very clearly," said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.
He cited the pope's visit to a synagogue during his first visit to Germany as pope in 2005, a visit to Auschwitz in 2006 and his remarks during last week's general audience.
"I hope that the memory of the Shoah leads humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of men," Lombardi quoted the pope as saying. "May the Shoah be a warning for all against oblivion, against denial or reductionism."
Lombardi said that during the audience "the pope himself clearly explained the purpose of lifting the excommunication, which has nothing to do with any legitimization of positions denying the Holocaust, which were clearly condemned" by Benedict.
Williamson was consecrated by the late ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent, leading to his excommunication. The Holy See has said that removing the excommunication did not imply the Vatican shared his views.
Merkel's stand was out of the ordinary, said Elan Steinberg, vice president of the New York-based American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.
"When the German Chancellor admonishes a German-born Pope it is an extraordinary message," Steinberg said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. ...
Williamson, in an interview broadcast last month on Swedish state TV, said that historical evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler."
He cited what he called the estimates of the "most serious" revisionists that "between 200,000 and 300,000 perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber."