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Bishop Richard Williamson, second from left in foreground, is escorted out of Heathrow airport by police and security officers
Williamson's comments caused widespread angerImage: AP

Catholic controversy

October 15, 2009

A judge in the German city of Regensburg is weighing up whether to issue a warrant against controversial Catholic bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied the mass murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany.


City prosecutors on Wednesday initiated the move against Williamson, who is a fundamentalist clergyman and member of the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX).

The motion follows remarks by Williamson late last year in which he drastically downplayed the extent of the Holocaust in an interview with a Swedish journalist on German soil.

Williamson alleged that Nazi gas chambers were a fallacy and that only "200,000 to 300,000 Jews" had been killed by Hitler's regime. The recognized number of deaths is around six million.

Denying the mass murder of Jews by the German Nazi regime is classified as a hate crime in Germany.

Williamson has said he was offered assurances by the Swedish television network that his comments would only be broadcast in Sweden. But German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said prosecutors had received a letter from the Swedish television producers in which they deny offering such assurances.

Regensburg judge Johann Ploed would not elaborate on what the penalty against Williamson could be, but said "it would likely be a fine."

Williamson's comments angered many Catholic and Jewish groups and led to widespread criticism of the Vatican for moving to reconcile its splintered relationship with the SSPX.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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