Pope Benedict has written a letter to Catholic Church bishops admitting the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop was mishandled and warning the Church risked "devouring itself" with internal squabbles. In the letter the Vatican released on Thursday, the Benedict also says he was pained by Catholics' criticism of him and that the Vatican could have foreseen problems if it had used the internet more. "The letter is very personal, very anguished, very pained but very honest," an Italian bishop told ‘Reuters’ on condition of anonymity. The Pope says the affair unleashed a storm of "vehemence" and hurt him deeply, particularly because much of the criticism came from Catholics.
The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder, praised Benedict XVI for issuing the letter. "The Pope has found clear and unequivocal words regarding Bishop Williamson's Holocaust denial, and he deserves praise for admitting that mistakes were made within the Vatican in the handling of this affair," Lauder said. "The Pope's letter conveys the essential requirements for inter-religious dialogue: candor and the willingness to tackle difficult issues squarely. His expressed anguish at the events following the Holocaust-denying statements by Williamson reflects the similar emotional pain felt by Jews worldwide during this affair. We reciprocate his words of appreciation for Jewish efforts to restore inter-religious dialogue and will continue to work with the Catholic Church to further strengthen mutual understanding and respect," the WJC president pointed out.