Pope Benedict XVI made significant progress today in healing the rift with the Jewish community that erupted after he lifted the excommunication of controversial bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied the existence and extent of the Holocaust. In a Vatican City meeting with Jewish leaders the pope insisted that the Catholic Church was "profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism."
He went on to reaffirm that the Church's views on the Holocaust are in no way similar to Williamson's, stating that "The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah [Holocaust] was a crime against humanity."
While some Jewish leaders, including Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman, continue to call for Williamson to be excommunicated yet again, by and large the assembled group seemed pleased with the pope's efforts.
"We came here with heavy hearts because of recent events, but we came away
pleased and honored by the words of His Holiness," said Malcolm Hoenlein, vice
president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations, to a group of Vatican reporters.
In addition, Pope Benedict announced that he plans on touring Israel in May, only the second time a Pope has visited the Jewish state.
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