Bishop fired over Holocaust remarks

Monday 09 February 2009 19.26
Bishop Richard Williamson - Fired over Holocaust remarks
Bishop Richard Williamson - Fired over Holocaust remarks

The ultra-traditionalist cleric who embarrassed Pope Benedict by questioning the immensity of the Holocaust has been removed as Rector of an Argentine seminary, his Society has revealed.

In a statement, Father Christian Bouchacourt, the head of the Latin American chapter of the Catholic Society, Saint Pius the Tenth, said Bishop Richard Williamson had been fired from the leadership of La Reja seminary near Buenos Aires.

He said the bishop's statements did not in any way reflect the Society's position.

Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications of Richard Williamson and three other Bishops of the dissident Catholic Society last month.

A furore then erupted following a broadcast in which the British prelate minimised the number of Jews who had been gassed in Nazi concentration camps.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel echoed protests from Jewish and Catholic leaders that the Vatican could be seen to be soft on Holocaust-denial.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Chancellor had spoken by phone with the Pope. The Vatican described their discussion as ‘cordial and constructive’.

In a joint statement they expressed their 'profound conviction that the Holocaust represented an ever-valid warning for humankind'.

Shortly afterwards, in an effort to distance the Society of St Pius the Tenth from the controversy, its leader in Latin America said Bishop Williamson had been fired as Rector of its Buenos Aires seminary.

‘Monsignor Williamson's statements do not in any way reflect the position of our congregation,’ Father Christian Bouchacourt's statement declared.