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BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of a traditionalist Catholic group said an apology from a fellow bishop for denying the Holocaust was an important step, but he hoped the bishop would now stay silent.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) told a German weekly that the apology from British Bishop Richard Williamson, also a member of SSPX, was honest.
"It is a first request for forgiveness and an important step in the right direction," Fellay told Der Spiegel.
Williamson's denial of the Holocaust caused international uproar. In January, Pope Benedict enraged many Jews and Catholics by lifting the excommunications of the British bishop, along with three other SSPX bishops.
Williamson has said he believes no more than 300,000 Jews perished in the Holocaust and that there were no gas chambers. Nazis killed six million Jews in the Holocaust.
The Vatican on Friday rejected Williamson's apology, saying it did not meet its demand for full and public recanting.
Fellay reiterated that Williamson had damaged the SSPX and sought to put distance between himself and the bishop.
Asked why the SSPX did not exclude Williamson, Fellay said:
"If he denies the Holocaust again, that will happen. It is probably better if he stays quiet and stays in a corner somewhere." He added it was, in his view, unlikely that the Vatican would excommunicate Williamson again.