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Vatican orders bishop to recant views on Holocaust

 The Vatican has told the SSPX Bishop Williamson to publicly recant his views denying the Holocaust.

In a statement last night, the Vatican said: "Bishop Williamson, in order to be admitted to the Episcopal functions of the Church, must in an absolutely unequivocal and public way distance himself from his positions regarding the Shoah."

The statement said Bishop Williamson's positions on the Holocaust were "absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father".

A spokesman said Pope Benedict had not been aware of the bishop's views when he lifted excommunications on him and three other bishops last month.

The revelations about Bishop Williamson have caused a storm of protests.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Pope Benedict to clearly reject holocaust denial.

In an interview with Vatican Radio on Monday, German Cardinal Walter Kasper said poor organisation at the Curia was to blame. He said: "There wasn't enough talking with each other in the Vatican and there are no longer checks to see where problems could arise...I'm watching this debate with great concern. Nobody can be pleased that misunderstandings have turned up. Mistakes in the management of the curia have certainly also been made. I want to say that very clearly," he said.

Fr Eberhard von Gemmingen, head of Vatican Radio German service, said: "There are obviously shortcomings in the Vatican's organisation and communications ... such a misunderstanding and debacle must never happen again."

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, a former chairman of the German bishops' conference, told SWR public television in Germany the Pope's decision to re-admit Williamson had been "a disaster for all Holocaust survivors."

Another German Bishop, Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrueck, said the Catholic Church could not tolerate a Holocaust denier in its midst, but he also defended the Pope. He said Benedict had sought to make peace, but had been badly advised.