Pope Benedict and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken on the phone to discuss the Vatican’s position on the Holocaust, according to a statement released from the Holy See Press Office yesterday.
The communiqué stated that at the request of Merkel, the two heads of state spoke over the phone where they “were able to reciprocally exchange of points of view, in an atmosphere of the greatest respect.”
Last week Merkel asked the Vatican to clarify its position on the Holocaust due to controversy over Bishop Richard Williamson’s comments during an interview with a Swedish TV station.
The interview with Williamson, a bishop from the Society of St. Pius X, was aired on television shortly before Pope Benedict lifted the excommunication status of the society’s bishops.
In the conversation between the Holy Father and Merkel, the two heads of state spoke about remarks made by Pope Benedict at his general audience on January 28 and by Merkel on February 5.
According to the AP, last week Merkel said that she did not believe “sufficient clarification” had been made regarding the Vatican’s stance on the Holocaust.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office replied at the time by referencing the Pope’s January audience at which he stated: “As I once again affectionately express my full and indisputable solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters who received the First Covenant, I trust that the memory of the Shoah will induce humankind to reflect upon the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man. May the Shoah be for everyone an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism...”
Fr. Lombardi continued, the Pontiff’s “condemnation of the Holocaust denial could not have been clearer.”
Commenting on the phone conversation, Ulrich Wilhelm, spokesman for the German federal government, and Fr. Federico Lombardi noted that “it was a cordial and constructive discussion marked by their shared and profound conviction that the Shoah represents an ever-valid admonition for humankind'."