Argentina gives Bishop Williamson the boot

LAST UPDATED AT 08:54 ON Fri 20 Feb 2009

Richard Williamson, the British Roman Catholic bishop who has questioned the Holocaust and in doing so caused Pope Benedict XIV no end of headaches over the past month, has been told he must leave Argentina, where, until recently, he had worked as a director of a seminary near Buenos Aires.

As reported here, Williamson lost his job at the seminary earlier this month after he was reported saying in a Swedish television interview that no Jews were killed in gas chambers during World War Two. Now the Argentine government has given him ten days to pack his bags and leave the country.

The Interior Ministry said that his statements on the Holocaust "profoundly insult Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity by denying an historic truth". It also said the bishop had not declared "his true activity" as the director of the seminary on immigration forms, and that he had "concealed the true motive for his stay in the country" by claiming to be an employee of a non-governmental body.

An international furore erupted last month after the Pope lifted the ex-communication of Bishop Williamson, along with three other bishops of the ultra-conservative sect, the Society of Pope Pius X. The Vatican explained that Benedict’s aim was to bring the Society of Pope Pius X back towards unity with the Church, and that he had been unaware of Bishop Williamson's views.

The Vatican's attempts to dampen down the situation - it ordered Williamson to recant his statements - did little good. While he apologised for the anguish caused by his remarks, which he first expressed in 1989, he did not take back what he said.

Williamson, who describes himself on his personal blog as a “dinosaur” and is a friend of the British historian and fellow Holocaust denier David Irving, offered to re-examine his position on the Nazi genocide. He wrote: "And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time."

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