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Europe

Holocaust-denying bishop leaves Argentina

Latest update : 2009-02-24

British Catholic bishop Richard Williamson forcibly left Argentina on Tuesday. He was on the verge of having his ex-communication overturned until he re-affirmed his views that Jewish death tolls in the Holocaust were exaggerated.

AFP - British Catholic bishop Richard Williamson, who was expelled from Argentina for denying the Holocaust, left the country on Tuesday, airport officials said.
  
"British Airways said that Flight 246 to London, Heathrow took off at 14:15 pm (1615 GMT)", an airport official told AFP.
  
Immigration officials confirmed Williamson had completed customs formalities and had boarded the British Airways plane.
  
Wearing glasses and a cap, Williamson had earlier been accompanied by two men swiftly through Ezeiza international airport, television images showed.
  
The government of President Cristina Kirchner on Thursday ordered Williamson's deportation, giving him 10 days to leave the country for having "deeply shocked Argentine society, the Jewish people and all of humanity."
  
Earlier this month the conservative Roman Catholic Saint Pius X Society for Latin America had decried the bishop's comments.
  
"We hope that with Williamson's departure, all of this will calm down a bit," Christian Bouchacourt, a senior official for the society, told AFP on Tuesday.
  
The 68-year-old bishop had been living at a seminary 40 kilometers (24 miles) west of Buenos Aires.
  
He has been at the center of a raging controversy after saying on Swedish television last month: "There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies."
  
Williamson had been one of four bishops that Pope Benedict agreed to take back last month in an attempt by the Vatican to heal a split with traditionalists who did not accept reforms of the early 1960s.
  
But two days later Williamson made his controversial statements on Swedish SVT television, stating he believed "200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers," he said.
  
Despite Vatican demands, Williamson has refused to recant his statement.
  
During the Nazi's reign in Germany from 1933 to 1945 some six million Jews were slaughtered in extermination camps alongside hundreds of thousands of gypsies, homosexuals, political opponents and disabled people.
  
Conservative Catholic groups have at regular intervals hit controversy over their links to Nazis and their views on Nazi actions in World War II.
  
Thousands of Germans immigrated to Argentina before and after the war, including several Nazi officials and collaborators, and Argentina was seen for decades as a haven for Nazi war criminals fleeing their past.
  

Date created : 2009-02-24

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