Israel's chief Rabbinate, the country's highest Jewish body, has cut ties with the Vatican to protest the Pope’s decision to lift the excommunication of a bishop who publicly denied the full extent of the Holocaust, a news report said on Thursday.
In a protest reflecting the Jewish anger around the world, Israel's chief Rabbinate wrote to Pope Benedict XVI condemning Bishop Richard Williamson’s comments as outrageous, The Times newspaper reported.
The pope's decision to reinstate the bishops came just days after Williamson told Swedish TV that evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews being deliberately gassed".
Bishop Williamson told the channel that no Jews were killed in gas chambers, and that up to 300,000 died in the Holocaust. According to historians, upto six million Jews died in the mass killings by Adolf Hitler's stormtroopers.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the chief Rabbinate also cancelled a meeting with the Holy See’s commission for religious relations with the Jews. It has sparked an outrage in Israel, where the Pope is due to visit in May.
Williamson of Britain and three other bishops had been excommunicated 20 years ago after the late ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated them without papal consent.
The Pope lifted their excommunication, provoking an outrage among Jews who deplore Williamson's views.