The ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic bishop who has drawn criticism from the Vatican and from Jewish groups for denying the extent of the Holocaust has been removed as the head of an Argentine seminary.
AFP - The conservative Argentine seminary led by Bishop Richard Williamson has ousted the British born cleric and repudiated his statements denying that Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews in World War II.
"Statements by Monsignor Williamson in no way reflect the position of our congregation," the Saint Pius X Society for Latin America said in a statement issued at the weekend.
"It is clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on matters concerning faith and morality," said the statement by the seminary, which is located outside the capital Buenos Aires.
Father Christian Bouchacourt, the order's South America head, in the statement reacted "with sadness" to Williamson's "inopportune" remarks.
Pope Benedict XVI has come under fire for lifting the excommunication of Williamson, who has not recanted his position.
The reversal of Williamson's excommunication led to a rift between the Vatican and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spoke by telephone Sunday in an effort to reconcile.
The ultra-conservative Williamson denied the existence of the gas chambers in a November interview aired by Swedish television on January 21, just as the pope was about to lift his excommunication.
Williamson was one of four bishops welcomed back into the flock in an attempt to heal a decades-old split with traditionalists who did not accept the reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s.
The prelates are members of the Swiss-based "Lefebvrist" fraternity which notably rejected the Council's declaration "Nostra Aetate", according to which Jews are the "older brothers" of Christians and no longer held responsible for killing Jesus Christ.
Williamson told the German weekly Der Spiegel in an interview last week that he would reexamine the historical evidence.
"If I find proof I would rectify (earlier statements)... but all that will take time," he was quoted as saying.
Date created : 2009-02-09