Holocaust-denying bishop promises to review evidence
A bishop, ordered by the Vatican to recant his denial of the Holocaust, says he will re-examine the research upon which he made his conclusion that no Jews were gassed by the Nazi regime, a German magazine reported Saturday.
Bishop Richard Williamson — who belongs to the Society of St. Pius X, an ultraconservative religious order that has been estranged from the Roman Catholic Church for decades — told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that he became convinced of his views about the Holocaust bsed on research he did in the 1980s.
Williamson is quoted by Der Spiegel as saying he would re-examine "everything again and look at the evidence." However, he said he wouldn't be visiting the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
"Since I see that there are many honest and intelligent people who think differently, I must look again at the historical evidence," the British-born bishop was quoted as saying.
"It is about historical evidence, not about emotions," he added, according to the report. "And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time."
On Wednesday, the Vatican demanded that Williamson recant his denial before he can be admitted as a bishop into the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church said it used its most severe discipline — excommunication — on Williamson and three other bishops decades ago because they had been elevated to bishop's rank by a renegade, ultraconservative prelate, the late archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI didn't know about Williamson's views on the Holocaust when he agreed to lift the bishop's excommunication in January.
While Williamson has apologized to the Pope for having stirred controversy, he has not repudiated his comments, in which he said only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed during the Second World War and that none died in Nazi gas chambers. Most historians agree about six million Jews died in the Holocaust.
Williamson made his views known in a Swedish TV interview broadcast in January, two days before the Pope announced he would lift the bishop's excommunication.
Der Spiegel said the British bishop, who lives in Argentina, insisted on having questions faxed to him and sent his replies by email. It said their authenticity was confirmed in a phone call by Williamson and a lawyer for the Society of St. Pius X.
With files from the Associated Press