Holocaust-denying bishop brandishes fist in Argentina exit

A British-born bishop who denies the scale of the Holocaust scuffled with a reporter in Argentina on Tuesday before boarding a flight back to Britain after the Argentinian government ordered him to leave the country.

A British-born bishop who denies the scale of the Holocaust scuffled with a reporter in Argentina on Tuesday before boarding a flight back to Britain after the Argentine government ordered him to leave the country.

Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson, left, raises his fist at a TV journalist as he passes through Buenos Aires Ezeiza airport in this image taken from television on Tuesday. ((Todo Noticias/Associated Press) )
A local television station showed Richard Williamson raising a clenched fist to a television reporter's face, then angrily pushing him against a pole at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza airport.

As the bishop hurried off to catch his British Airways flight to London, two men accompanying him held the journalist back.

The 68-year-old belongs to the Society of St. Pius X, an ultraconservative religious order that has been estranged from the Roman Catholic Church for decades. He had been living at a seminary 40 kilometres west of Buenos Aires.

On Thursday, the Argentine government gave Williamson 10 days to leave the country for failing to declare a job change as required by immigration law, as well as having "deeply shocked Argentine society, the Jewish people and all of humanity."

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 300,000 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.

This image from video shows British-born Bishop Richard Williamson during a November 2008 interview in Schierling, Germany. ((SVT/Associated Press))
Williamson was originally excommunicated for being ordained without the Vatican's permission by the founder of the Society of St. Pius X.

Pope Benedict XVI has been working to reunite the Roman Catholic Church with the group. However, the Vatican has demanded that Williamson recant his views before it fully reinstates him in the church.

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