Williamson goes to David Irving for advice.
Bishop Richard Williamson.
Bishop seeks Holocaust denier's advice
LONDON, Feb 26, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Richard Williamson, the controversial traditionalist Catholic bishop, has sought advice from British Holocaust denier David Irving, Irving says.
Irving told The Telegraph that Williamson, recently forced to return to England from Argentina, got in touch with him by e-mail.
"He is obviously a very intelligent man who did not realize the danger of talking to the press," Irving said. "He is not a Holocaust denier. Like me, he does not buy the whole package."
In an interview with a Swedish TV station, Williamson said the evidence shows that about 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps and that none of them were killed in gas chambers. Most historians agree that 6 million to 7 million Jews died in the camps, along with millions of Gypsies, Communists, homosexuals and the disabled.
A few days later, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was lifting Williamson's excommunication. The pope, since then, has told Williamson he must publicly recant his views on the Holocaust if he wants to return to full communion.
Williamson had been living in a traditionalist seminary in Argentina but was ordered out of the country last week.
And then we have Williamson's 'apology':
Jewish groups reject Holocaust-doubting bishop's apology
John Hooper in Rome, guardian.co.uk
Roman Catholic bishop Richard Williamson arrives at Heathrow airport Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
Bishop Richard Williamson, whose readmission to the Catholic church caused an international outcry, last night apologised for remarks in which he denied the scale of the Nazi Holocaust.
In a statement on the website of the Rome Catholic news agency Zenit, he said his views on the Holocaust were not those of an historian. They had been "formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since." Williamson added: "To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologise."
He caused outrage by saying in a TV interview broadcast in January that there were no gas chambers in the Nazis' concentration camps. He also challenged the widely accepted figure of six million victims, saying he believed that no more than 300,000 Jews had died.
"I can truthfully say I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them," Williamson said.
Some Jewish groups expressed disappointment at his statement. Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said it was "not the kind of an apology that would end this matter" because it failed to address the central issue.
"The one thing he doesn't say, and the main thing, is that the Holocaust occurred, that it is not a fabrication, that it is not a lie," Hier said in a telephone interview. "You want to make an apology, you have to affirm the Holocaust."
Renzo Gattegna, the president of Italy's Jewish Communities, described the apology as "absolutely ambiguous."
The bishop belongs to an ultra-conservative Catholic breakaway movement, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and was expelled from the church after being ordained in an unauthorised ceremony in 1988. Last month Pope Benedict lifted his excommunication and those of three other SSPX bishops as a first step towards healing the church's only contemporary schism.
The move caused fury among Jewish leaders and indeed many Catholics, especially in Germany and Austria. It has led to widespread questioning within the church of Benedict's judgment and the way he reaches his decisions.
Zenit said Williamson's comments were released by the Vatican's Ecclesia Dei commission, a body set up by the late Pope John Paul II to try to heal the rift with the SSPX, which broke with the church over liberal reforms enacted in the 1960s.
In a passage hinting at pressure brought to bear on him, the bishop said "the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the SSPX have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused."
Yet, even with the ambiguity of Williamson's apology and David Irving's claim that Williamson contactred him for advice, the Catholic news service Zenit:
SSPX Bishop Williamson Apologizes for Holocaust Comments
Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)
The events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility.
LONDON, (Zenit.org) - Bishop Richard Williamson, formerly excommunicated member of the Society of St. Pius X, apologized today for statements in which he denied the extent of the Holocaust.
In a statement published on his return to London on Wednesday after being expelled by the government of Argentina, the prelate explained that "the Holy Father and my superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy."
The bishop, along with three other Lefebvrite prelates, had their 20-year excommunication lifted at the end of January, in the framework of Benedict XVI's continuing efforts to heal the schism between the society and the Church. Around the same time, the bishop appeared on public television and made reductionist statements about the Jewish Holocaust that gave rise to extensive controversy.
Bishop Williamson continued, "Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them."
The prelate said that on Swedish television he only gave the "opinion [...] of a non-historian," a perspective "formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since."
However, he recognized, "the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused."
He added, "To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize."
Bishop Williamson concluded, "As the Holy Father has said, every act of unjust violence against one man hurts all mankind."
On Feb. 12 Benedict XVI, reiterating again the Church's view of the Holocaust, affirmed that "it is clear that every negation or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and at the same time unacceptable."