Bishop Richard Williamson ordered to leave Argentina

From The Times
February 19, 2009
An English bishop who denies the holocaust has been ordered to leave Argentina.
Bishop Richard Williamson has been give ten days to leave the country or face expulsion after global controversy over his views and the Vatican’s attitudes towards them.
The Argentine Interior Ministry said Bishop Williamson’s statements on the Holocaust “profoundly insult Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity by denying an historic truth”.
An international furore erupted last month after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of Bishop Williamson, along with three other bishops of the ultra-conservative sect, the Society of Pope Pius X.
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Bishop Williamson denies any Jews died in gas chambers – calling such claims “lies” – and says that no more than 300,000 died in Nazi concentration camps. The commonly accepted figure is six million.
Bishop Williamson had been head of La Reja seminary in Buenos Aires since 2003 but he was removed from that job last week.
The Argentine interior ministry said that Bishop Williamson had not declared “his true activity” as the director of the seminary on immigration forms, and had “concealed the true motive for his stay in the country” by claiming to be an employee of a non-governmental body.
The government said it had been unaware of Bishop Williamson’s position until recent publicity, but added that his views were a factor in the decision to expel him.
Tonight the Vatican said it had no comment on the Argentine decision. Bishop Williamson is thought to still be in Argentina and it is unclear where he might go.
The row started last month when the Pope decided to lift the excommunication, imposed in 1988. The Vatican explained that his aim was to bring the Society of Pope Pius X back towards unity with the Church, and that he had been unaware of Bishop Williamson’s views.
Two weeks ago the Vatican ordered Bishop Williamson to recant his statements “in an absolutely equivocal and public fashion”. Pope Benedict XVI met American Jewish leaders to say that Holocaust denial was “intolerable” and that he wanted to offer “the hand of friendship” to Jews.
The Vatican was trying to close down a row that had seen other faith leaders and even Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, criticise the decision to lift Bishop Williamson’s excommunication.
Bishop Williamson has apologised for the anguish caused by his views, which he first expressed in 1989, but not for the views themselves.
The Society of Pope Pius X was founded by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in revulsion at the liberalising reforms of the second Vatican Council of the 1960s.
“I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against, six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,” he told Swedish television last month, days before the Pope’s decision.
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