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Seminary removes 'Holocaust bishop'
Bishop who denies Jews were gassed in chambers removed as head of Argentine chapter.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2009 12:11 GMT
Williamson has said he will only apologise once he has reviewed historical evidence on the Holocaust [AFP]

A Roman Catholic bishop who denies that Jews were gassed in chambers during the Holocaust has been removed as the leader of a seminary in Argentina.

The head of the Saint Pius X Society for South America removed Richard Williamson as director of the seminary in La Reja, saying his statements in "no way reflect the position of our congregation".

Williamson has been ordered by the Vatican to publicly recant his views on the Holocaust.

But the British-born bishop recently told Germany's Spiegel magazine that he must first review historical evidence before considering an apology.

Father Christian Bouchacourt, the head of the South American chapter of the society, said: "It is clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on matters concerning faith and morality."

Bouchacourt described Williamson's remarks as "inopportune" and said he reacted to them "with sadness".

Pope in talks

The Society of St Pius X was founded by Marcel Lefebvre, a French archbishop, in 1970 as a protest against the who did not accept the Vatican's reforms of the early 1960s.

Williamson and three other bishops were excommunicated 20 years ago after they were consecrated by the Lefebvre without consent from the then pope, John Paul II - a move the Vatican said at the time was an act of schism.

Pope Benedict XVI sparked anger last month when he lifted excommunications on Williamson and the three other bishops, in an attempt to heal the rift within the church.

The pope has said he was not aware of Williamson's denial of the Holocaust when he lifted the excommunication orders.

On Sunday, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and the pope had held talks on over his decision to lift the excommunications.

An official statement said they had a "cordial and constructive" conversation.

It was "marked by the common and profound understanding that the Holocaust still represents a valid warning to humanity," the statement said.

Last week, Merkel had criticised the pope for rehabilitating the four bishops.

Source:
Agencies
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