Cardinal Walter Kasper has stepped up his criticism over the Vatican'shandling of the lifting of the excommunication of SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Pope Benedict to clearly reject holocaust denial.
"There wasn't enough talking with each other in the Vatican and there are no longer checks to see where problems could arise," said Cardinal Walter Kasper in a blunt interview with Vatican Radio's German program, broadcast on Monday night.
Vatican sources and officials had said privately the decision was taken without wide consultation. Kasper, who was left in the dark, appeared to be venting his frustration, the International Herald Tribune says.
"Of course, explaining something after the fact is always much more difficult than if one did it right away. I would have also liked to see more communication in advance," said the cardinal, who like Pope Benedict is German.
"I'm watching this debate with great concern. Nobody can be pleased that misunderstandings have turned up. Mistakes in the management of the curia (Vatican administration) have certainly also been made. I want to say that very clearly," he said.
Leading Catholic commentators have said the Williamson affair shows fundamental flaws in Benedict's governing style.
Fr Eberhard von Gemmingen, head of Vatican Radio German service, said: "There are obviously shortcomings in the Vatican's organisation and communications ... such a misunderstanding and debacle must never happen again."
Cardinal Karl Lehmann, a former chairman of the German bishops' conference, told SWR public television in Germany the pope's decision to re-admit Williamson had been "a disaster for all Holocaust survivors."
Lehmann, who is bishop of Mainz, called for the Vatican officials who managed the re-admission to be disciplined and for the pope to reiterate that Holocaust denial was not a minor sin.
He called the rehabilitation "a disaster".
He did not elaborate on whom should issue the "high level apology," but said in remarks recorded Monday that the Church must single mindedly continue its dialogue with Jews.
Another of Germany's 27 chief bishops, Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrueck, said the Catholic Church could not tolerate a Holocaust denier in its midst, but he also defended the pope. He said Benedict had sought to make peace, but had been badly advised.
In remarks quoted Monday, the archbishop of Hamburg, Werner Thissen, also accused Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the Vatican official who oversaw the return of the SSPX to the Church, of "sloppy" work on the case.
"There is obviously a loss of confidence" in the pope and "rehabilitating a denier is always a bad idea", Bishop Thissen, told the daily Hamburger Abendblatt on Monday.
The bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Gebhard Furst, meanwhile spoke of his "uncertainty, incomprehension and disappointment" in the nationalBild.
Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, on Sunday also lashed out at the decision to bring Williamson back into the fold, saying that "he who denies the Holocaust cannot be rehabilitated within the Church."
Meanwhile, Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in an interview that because of the pope's nationality, Benedict had a special responsibility to avoid creating rifts between religious groups over the comments of the controversial bishop, Richard Williamson of Britain.
"The pope's decision is particularly disturbing in that he is also a German pope," Kramer said. "Yes, he made a statement pledging solidarity with the Jews. But, frankly, the statement was made nearly 13 days after Williamson's interview. Why? The question is how the pope wants to proceed from here in relations with the Jewish community."
And German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Pope Benedict for a "very clear" rejection of Holocaust denial.
Merkel said Tuesday she does not believe there has been sufficient clarification after the rehabilitation of Richard Williamson, who questioned whether 6 million Jews were gassed.
Top cardinal says Vatican botched Holocaust affair (International Herald Tribune)
German Catholic Bishops Join Growing Criticism of Pope (Deutsche Welle)
Jewish leader in Germany says pope creating rifts (International Herald Tribune)
Call for pope to step down (News24)
German leader: pope must reject Holocaust denial (International Herald Tribune)
Pope's decision is "disastrous", says Dutch bishop
Vatican expert analyzes internal causes of SSPX bishop ‘flap' (Catholic News Agency)