Pope, Merkel in "cordial" chat after Holocaust row | world | Hindustan Times
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Pope, Merkel in "cordial" chat after Holocaust row

world Updated: Feb 08, 2009 18:56 IST

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Pope Benedict and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had criticised the pontiff over a Holocaust-denying bishop, have had a "cordial and constructive" phone conversation on the issue, the Vatican said on Sunday.

A joint statement by the Holy See and German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the pope and Merkel exchanged views "in an atmosphere of great respect."

"It was a cordial and constructive conversation, marked by their shared and deep recognition of the lesson of the Shoah of humanity," the statement said, adding the phone call had been requested by Merkel.

The German Chancellor criticised the pope last week for rehabilitating four traditionalist bishops, including one who denies the extent of the Holocaust -- a move that has outraged many people, including Jewish leaders and progressive Catholics.

The Vatican later ordered the bishop, Richard Williamson, to publicly recant his views if he wants to serve as a prelate in the Church. Merkel said that decision was a good and important signal.

The Vatican has been at pains since the excommunications on the four bishops where lifted on Jan. 24 to contain the damage from the Williamson affair.

It has said Pope Benedict, who has expressed his full solidarity with Jews, was not aware of Williamson's denial of the Holocaust when he rehabilitated the bishops to try to heal a 20-year-old schism within the Church.