Pope Benedict, trying to defuse a controversy over a bishop who denies the Holocaust, on Thursday said that "any denial or minimisation of this terrible crime is intolerable", especially if it comes from a clergyman.
The pope made the comments in his first meeting with Jews since the controversy over traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson began in late January. Williamson denies the full extent of the Holocaust and says there were no gas chambers.
The pope told Jewish leaders: "The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah (Holocaust) was a crime against humanity. This should be clear to everyone, especially to those standing in the tradition of the Holy Scriptures ..."
The pope also confirmed that he was planning to visit Israel. Vatican sources say the trip is expected for May.