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Vatican: Bishop Who Denied Holocaust Must Recant

The Vatican is demanding that a cleric who denied the full horror of the Holocaust publicly recant his views if he wants to serve as a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.

A Vatican statement Wednesday says Pope Benedict XVI did not know about Bishop Richard Williamson's views when he lifted his excommunication for an unrelated matter last month.

Swedish television broadcast an interview with Williamson several days before his rehabilitation in which he denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He also insisted that the Nazis killed no more than 300,000, not six million, Jews in concentration camps.

The founder of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier, says he welcomes the Vatican statement but says the church bungled the matter.

Rabbi Hier says simple research would have revealed Williamson's anti-Semitism and past Holocaust denial.

Wednesday's Vatican statement says the pope considers Williamson's views "absolutely unacceptable" and firmly rejects them.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.