Analysis: Rare Public Criticism Heard At Vatican

February 3, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: International Herald Tribune

Wire Service: AP

Criticism of Pope Benedict XVI has come from various quarters — Muslims, Jews, members of his own flock.

But in the latest papal controversy, even Germany's leader and some top Roman Catholic churchmen are questioning Vatican policy after Benedict last month rehabilitated a Holocaust denier as bishop along with three other ultraconservative clergymen.

Seeking to spare Benedict direct criticism, many Catholic leaders are blaming unidentified aides. However, the furor gives a rare glimpse behind the Vatican's facade of unity and once again raises questions about the pontiff's commitment to interfaith relations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel entered the debate on Tuesday, calling on Benedict to issue a "very clear" rejection of Holocaust denial after he rehabilitated Richard Williamson.

The British-born bishop has apologized to the pope for stirring controversy but did not repudiate his statement that historical evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed" during World War II.