In an attempt to assuage international condemnation of its decision to readmit an ultra right-wing British bishop who denied the Holocaust, the Vatican yesterday declared that he would not be allowed to serve as a priest unless he recanted his views.
In an interview on Swedish television, Richard Williamson denied the existence of the gas chambers and said only 300,000 Jews died under the Nazis. He was pardoned by the Pope in January as part of a move to overturn the excommunication of four bishops ordained by the arch-conservative Society of Saint Pius X. The move sparked outrage, including condemnation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday that the Pope had not done enough to repair the damage caused. Less than 24 hours later, the Vatican's Secretariat of State said Williamson "must in an absolutely unequivocal and public way distance himself from his positions". It added that his views on the Holocaust were "absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father".