Pope’s move unpopular

The cardinal in charge of the Vatican’s relations with Jews has admitted that the pope’s decision to rehabilitate an ultra-conservative bishop who denies the Holocaust was the result of bad management in the Vatican hierarchy.

On Vatican Radio, Cardinal Walter Kasper said: ‘Mistakes in the management of the curia [Vatican administration] have certainly been made.”

Condemnation of moves to lift the excommunication of a Briton, Richard Williamson, who denies the full scale of the Holocaust, has spread across the world. Holocaust survivors, United States Congress members and leading Catholics are among those who condemned the decision.

The scale of criticism is unprecedented in the four years of Benedict’s pontificate.

Criticism from Germany — where Holocaust denial is a crime — has been particularly strong.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had to break her own rule not to comment on internal church matters and called on the pope to ‘unambiguously clarify” his position.

Last weekend the pope entered a fresh row after promoting to bishop an ultra-conservative Austrian, Gerhard Maria Wagner, who had said Hurricane Katrina was ‘divine retribution” for New Orleans’ sexual permissiveness. —

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