Holocaust-denying bishop told to leave Argentina
A British-born bishop who denies the scale of the Holocaust has been ordered to leave Argentina within 10 days, the South American country's Interior Ministry said Thursday.
The Argentine government alleges Richard Williamson "concealed the true motive for his stay in the country" by saying he was an employee of a non-governmental group rather than declaring that he was appointed director of the La Reja Seminary near Buenos Aires in 2003.
A Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican had no comment on Argentina's action.
Williamson was removed as head of the seminary last week by the Society of St. Pius X, an ultraconservative religious order estranged from the Roman Catholic Church.
"Monsignor Williamson’s statements do not in any way reflect the position of our congregation," said Rev. Christian Bouchacourt, who leads the Latin American chapter of the Society of St. Pius X.
Williamson expressed some of his controversial views in a Swedish television interview broadcast on Jan. 21. He denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers during the Second World War, and said only 200,000 to 300,00 Jews were killed, not six million.
Two days later, Williamson and three other ultraconservative bishops were welcomed back into the Roman Catholic Church, more than 20 years after Pope John Paul II excommunicated them, on a theological question unrelated to the Holocaust.
Williamson was originally excommunicated for being ordained without the Vatican's permission by the founder of the Society of St. Pius X.
The Vatican has been working to reunite with the traditionalist group. However, it has demanded that Williamson recant his views before it officially reverses the decison on excommunication.
Earlier this month, the bishop promised to review historical evidence concerning the Holocaust before deciding whether to recant.
Williamson also questioned the Holocaust while serving as rector of the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minn., between 1988 and 2003.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Williamson declared in a 1989 speech that "Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism."
With files from the Associated Press