In an apparent effort to soften the ground before his upcoming visit to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI this week acknowledged making a mistake in reversing the excommunication of a bishop who most know because of his assertion that the Nazi Holocaust never took place.
The pope reversed the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson and three other bishops last month in a move aimed at mending a rift with the ultra-conservative wing of the Catholic Church.
But most people know Williamson for his denial that there was a systematic Nazi effort to exterminate the Jews, a position he repeated as recently as January in an interview with Swedish television.
In light of Williamson's beliefs on the Holocaust, the pope's move was seen by many as harming recent reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and was harshly attacked, even by many Catholics.
Williamson's reinstatement was expected to be a major topic of discussion when the pope visits Jordan and Israel in May.