1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Church Scandal

DW staff (th)February 9, 2009

The troubles haven't ended for the British-born cleric whose comments about the Holocaust caused such a controversy that the Pope and German chancellor became involved. His seminary in Argentina has disowned him.

Pope Benedikt XVI, left, and Bishop Richard Williamson, right
The pope says he didn't know about Williamson's views on the HolocaustImage: picture-alliance / dpa

Bishop Richard Williamson's denial that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews in World War II has lost him his job, news agencies reported on Monday, Feb. 9.

"Statements by Monsignor Williamson in no way reflect the position of our congregation," the Saint Pius X Society for Latin America said in a statement issued over the weekend.

"It is clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on matters concerning faith and morality," said the statement by the seminary, which is located outside the capital Buenos Aires.

Scandal rocked the church

Father Christian Bouchacourt, reportedly responsible for sacking Williamson, said in a statement that he was saddened by Williamson's "inopportune" remarks.

Pope Benedict XVI has come under fire for lifting the excommunication of Williamson, who has refused to recant his position. The reversal of Williamson's excommunication led to public criticism from Merkel as well as high-ranking Catholic and Jewish leaders in Germany and throughout the world.

The Vatican has said Pope Benedict hadn't been aware of Williamson's denial of the Holocaust when he rehabilitated him.

Apology, but no change of heart

The backs of three men praying during a mass
The controversy reached the highest levels of the Catholic ChurchImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Williamson, an ultra-conservative, denied the existence of the gas chambers in a November 2008 interview aired by Swedish television on January 21, just before the pope was to lift his excommunication.

Williamson was one of four bishops who was rehabilitated in an attempt to heal a decades-old split with traditionalists who did not accept the reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s.

While Williams has apologized for the furor caused by his comments, he has not recanted them despite the Vatican ordering him to do so.

Williamson told the German weekly Der Spiegel in an interview last week that he would reexamine the historical evidence.

"If I find proof I would rectify (earlier statements)... but all that will take time," he was quoted as saying.