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Williamson apologizes for ‘imprudent’ remarks, not denial

ROME (JTA) — The bishop rehabilitated by Pope Benedict XVI despite his denial of the Nazi gas chambers apologized for causing "unnecessary distress and problems" with his statements.

Bishop Richard Williamson said his statements were "imprudent" but did not otherwise disavow them. The apology, in a letter to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, appeared Friday on Williamson’s blog.

"Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems," Williamson wrote.

In the Swedish TV interview, Williamson said he believed "that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler." He said that according to the best research he’s seen, 200,000 to 300,000 Jews may have died in Nazi concentration camps, and none in gas chambers.

Benedict’s revocation of the 20-year-old excommunication of Williamson, along with that of three other traditionalist bishops, has sparked a new crisis in relations between the Vatican and Jews.

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