Israeli Rabbis Cut Off Vatican Over Holocaust Dispute
Pope attempts to smooth ties with conciliatory remarks
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jan 28, 2009 3:02 PM CST

(Newser) – Israel’s senior rabbinical body has severed ties with the Vatican, saying Bishop Richard Williamson should recant his statements denying that millions of Jews were "deliberately gassed" during the Holocaust. The chief rabbinate expressed “sorrow and pain” at the decision, which follows worldwide outrage among Jews and progressive Catholics for Pope Benedict's decision to reinstate Williamson, the Telegraph reports.

The rabbis also canceled a March meeting with the Vatican, which says rehabilitating Williamson doesn’t endorse his extremist views. In his first public statements on the controversy, the pontiff called the Holocaust a “brutal massacre of millions of Jews, innocent victims of blind hatred.” His words failed to blunt the controversy over his reinstatement of Williamson, who had been excommunicated.