Merkel, pope speak after Holocaust controversy

Germany's government and the Vatican say Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Benedict XVI have had a constructive telephone conversation after a week marked by tension over a Holocaust-denying bishop. A joint statement Sunday said Merkel initiated the call. She made a rare public demand Tuesday for clarification from the German-born pope after the Vatican lifted the excommunication of traditionalist British Bishop Richard Williamson. The Vatican demanded Wednesday that Williamson recant his denial of the Holocaust before he can be admitted into the church as a bishop. Merkel welcomed that statement. A German magazine reported Saturday that Williamson said he would correct himself if he is satisfied by the evidence, but it "will take time."