- Category: Priestly Society of St. Pius X
- Created: February 15, 2009
- Written by Reuters: Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN (Reuters) - A leader of Germany's Roman Catholic Church said on Sunday it was "almost ridiculous" that Bishop Richard Williamson has said he needs time to review evidence about whether the Holocaust took place.
Cardinal Karl Lehmann, a long-time former chair of Germany's Catholic bishops' conference, told Deutschlandfunk radio that Williamson, who belongs to the ultra-traditional Society of Saint Pius X, must quickly clarify his views on the Holocaust.
Williamson has said he believes there were no gas chambers and that no more than 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps, rather than the 6 million accepted by most historians.
The Vatican has ordered him to retract his comments. Williamson has said in response he needs more time to review the evidence.
"That's actually almost ridiculous," Lehmann said, adding it was hard for many people to understand the "cat and mouse" game being played. "And that's why this has to somehow quickly be brought to a conclusion," the bishop of Mainz added.
Pope Benedict has tried to defuse the controversy over Williamson, which began in late January. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany and the criticism of Williamson's views from the pope's home country has been especially high.
Catholic-Jewish relations have been tense since January 24, when Benedict lifted the excommunications of Williamson and three other renegade traditionalist bishops in an attempt to heal a schism that began in 1988 when they were ordained without Vatican permission.
(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Andrew Roche)