VATICAN CITY, March 12 (UPI) -- Catholic Pope Benedict XVI admits he made mistakes in lifting the excommunications of a Holocaust denier and three other ultra-traditionalist bishops.
In a personal letter to the world's Catholic bishops leaked by two Italian dailies Wednesday, the pope says he wishes to ''contribute to peace within the Church'' by clarifying circumstances surrounding the rehabilitation of the four bishops in January, ANSA reported.
The newspapers reported Benedict acknowledged the first ''mistake'' was his failure to learn that British Bishop Richard Williamson was a Holocaust denier by not checking the Internet, where his comments were posted. Williamson had reiterated his belief there were no gas chambers and that only 300,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II, not 6 million.
Benedict said that from now on the Vatican will pay greater attention to the Internet as an information source, Il Foglio reported.
The second ''mistake'' was that of a ''not sufficiently clear'' manner of explaining the bishops' rehabilitation, the newspapers reported the pope as saying.
Il Giornale reported Benedict said he is ''saddened'' by the fact that Catholics have acted with ''hostility'' toward him over the affair.
''For this reason I am very thankful to our Jewish friends who helped to clear up the misunderstanding promptly and re-establish an atmosphere of friendship and trust," he wrote.
After initial tensions with Jews over Williamson's rehabilitation, the pope sought to defuse the situation and Jewish leaders said they were satisfied after he issued an explicit condemnation of Holocaust denial.
The Vatican said the pope's letter would be officially presented Thursday.