Holocaust-denying bishop lands in Britian

london  |  A Holocaust-denying bishop landed in his native Britain on Feb. 24 after being expelled from Argentina over his views.

Bishop Richard Williamson was fired from the seminary he headed near Buenos Aires earlier this month, and on Feb. 19 Argentina’s government ordered the traditionalist Catholic bishop to leave the country or face expulsion. The government cited his failure to declare a job change as required by immigration law, as well as his denials of the Holocaust, which it called “an insult” to humanity.

The Roman Catholic bishop decided to return to his home country, where he knew he could not be turned away.

Even his departure was dramatic: Images broadcast on Buenos Aires’ Todo Noticias television showed Williamson — wearing a baseball cap, a black fleece jacket and dark sunglasses — hurrying through Ezeiza International Airport, when television reporter Norberto Dupesso moved alongside Williamson to ask a question.

Williamson, his lips tightly pursed in a grimace, raised a clenched fist inches from Dupesso’s face, then pushed past, shoving Dupesso into a pole with his shoulder. Two men accompanying the bishop then grabbed Dupesso by his shoulders and held him back while Williamson hurried away.

In a Swedish television interview broadcast Jan. 21, Williamson said he believed “that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.” He said no more than a few hundred Jews died in Europe during World War II.

The Anti-Defamation League also found records of speeches and letters by Williamson when he was based earlier at a seminary in Winona, Minn. He was quoted in one 1989 speech as saying that “Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.”

The director and founder of Britain’s National Holocaust Centre, Dr. Stephen Smith, said that “As a British citizen, it is not surprising he is returning home, but the U.K. must not be a safe haven for him and people like him. Denying the Holocaust is not the problem. The real problem is the anti-Semitism that lies behind it.”

Only a day after the British prime minister added his signature to the London Declaration on combating anti-Semitism, Smith said, “We may not have specific legislation to address Holocaust denial, but we do have legislation to deal with racial and religious hatred. It needs to be used.”

Pope Benedict XVI sparked a furor last month when he reinstated Williamson and three other excommunicated bishops, all members of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, to the Church.

Associated Press writers Jeannette Neumann and Mayra Pertossi contributed to this report.