Holocaust denier apologises to Pope

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Richard Williamson, the ultra-conservative bishop whose denial of the Nazi Holocaust caused outrage this week after he was reinstated by Pope Benedict XVI, has expressed his "sincere regret", asking the pontiff to forgive him for the "anguish" he has caused him.

In a posting on the web Bishop Williamson, a member of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X, apologised for the "imprudent phrases" he used last week in an interview broadcast by Swedish television and for the problems this had caused the Pope. He did not however specifically withdraw his claim that millions of Jews did not die in Nazi gas chambers.

Addressing Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who has acted as mediator between the Vatican and the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Bishop Williamson referred to "this terrible controversy generated by my imprudent words to Swedish television". He asked the cardinal to accept "with all due respect my sincere manifestation of regret for the pointless problems and anguish which I have caused to you and to the Holy Father".

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