"The Vatican, bowing to the growing furor over Pope Benedict XVI's decision to accept a return to the church of a prelate who denied the Holocaust, made a dramatic turnaround Wednesday and demanded the bishop recant.
The Vatican sought to distance the pope from the controversy by saying he did not know about British Bishop Richard Williamson's views when he agreed to lift his excommunication last month.
In the surprisingly public spat, some leading cardinals in Germany and at the Vatican blamed unidentified aides for not fully briefing the pope.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said he took Benedict at his word that he didn't know about Williamson's views, but said he couldn't believe Vatican aides didn't do more research to better inform the pope.
‘This was absolutely a matter that was bungled at the highest levels of the Vatican,’ Hier said. ‘If they Googled the name Bishop Williamson, they'd find out he was a Holocaust denier. This did not require advanced research at the Vatican Library or Oxford.’
‘Everybody knows he's an anti-Semite,’ since Williamson has been vocal about his views, making speeches and publishing a blog, Hier said. ‘The other Holocaust deniers are rabid, anti-Semites who can't claim any legitimacy. But when a person calls himself bishop and he was invited back into the Catholic Church by none other than the pope, he brings with him an aura of legitimacy. And that legitimacy stains the pope. So the pope today finally made the right decision, that (Williamson) must recant.’"
- Victor L. Simpson, Associated Press