Pope meets US Jewish leaders, reassures them on Holocaust

February 12th, 2009 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Vatican City, Feb 12 (DPA) Pope Benedict XVI condemned Thursday all forms of anti-Semitism in his first face-to-face meeting with Jewish leaders since the outbreak of a row over a Holocaust-denying bishop.
“It is beyond question that any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether unacceptable,” the pontiff said referring to the Nazi mass-murder of Jews.

Benedict during the private audience held at the Vatican, also said he is preparing to visit Israel, but did not specify a date.

The pontiff was addressing a delegation of about 60 representatives of US-based Jewish groups, headed by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor who in April 2008 hosted the pontiff in his New York synagogue.

Several Jewish leaders speaking before the meeting said they hoped Benedict would take the opportunity of announcing steps against British-born Bishop Richard Williamson who in a television interview denied Jews died in Nazi gas chambers.

Williamson was among four ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X bishops whose 1988 excommunication Benedict revoked last month - a decision announced a few days after the offending interview was aired on Swedish television.

Facing mounting criticism, including from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Vatican last week said Williamson must distance himself “clearly and publicly” from remarks he made denying the Holocaust.

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