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Europe

Holocaust-denying bishop stands by his convictions

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT

Latest update : 2009-02-08

The British-born Catholic bishop Richard Williamson told the German magazine Der Spiegel that he would need "proof" before revising his belief that no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.

AFP - A bishop under fire for denying the Holocaust wants to examine the historical evidence before any possible renunciation of his belief that not a single Jew died in Nazi gas chambers, a report said.
  
"If I find proof I would rectify (earlier statements)... But all that will take time," Bishop Richard Williamson was quoted as saying by the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.
  
The British-born bishop last month denied the existence of the gas chambers in an interview with Swedish television, two days before the pope lifted his excommunication.
  
"I believe there were no gas chambers... I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers," Williamson said at the time.
  
"There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies!" he said.
  
Williamson told Der Spiegel he had researched the issue in the 1980s and was "for this reason, convinced of the certainty" of his position.
  
"All my life, I have sought the truth," Williamson said, adding that he had recently ordered a book on the "technique" of gas chambers in Auschwitz.
  
"I will read and study it," he said.
  
Williamson said he was astounded by the controversy generated by his comments and denounced "liberal bishops" for using the scandal to undermine Pope Benedict XVI.
  
"Evidently, Catholicism of the left has not yet forgiven the fact that Ratzinger has become pope," he said, referring to the 2005 decision to elect conservative German Catholic theologian Joseph Ratzinger as pontiff.
  
Meanwhile, the bishop of Innsbruck in western Austria, Manfred Scheuer, said the Vatican should learn lessons from the episode, which provoked a storm of criticism.
  
"The Pope's explanations (this week) were more than necessary and I welcome them. But we must now analyse the mistakes that have been made," Austria's Tiroler Zeitung daily on Saturday quoted him as saying.
  
"On questions as important as the lifting of an excommunication, the episcopal conferences should be consulted," he said, referring to official assemblies of bishops in different regions.
  
On Wednesday, the Vatican said 67-year-old Williamson should "unequivocally" distance himself from his statements.
  
It also said the bishop's remarks, denying the Nazis used gas chambers to eliminate millions of European Jews in World War II, were not known to the pope when he decided last month to lift the excommunication of four renegade bishops, including Williamson.
  

Date created : 2009-02-08

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