Holocaust Revisionist Put Under Pressure by Church, Courts | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 10.02.2009
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Holocaust Revisionist Put Under Pressure by Church, Courts

The superior of an ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X called on Richard Williamson to "correct" his denial of the Holocaust. The move comes as Argentina, where Williamson resides, filed suit against him.

Members of the Society of St. Pius X at Mass

Church leaders aren't the only ones calling on Williamson to retract his denial of the Holocaust

Bernard Fellay, who heads the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X, said Richard Williamson "should study the historical facts quickly and correct his false statements -- the sooner the better," the online version of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported Tuesday, Feb. 10.

There has been outrage, especially in Germany, over Williamson's claim to a Swedish television interviewer that there had been no gas chambers at Nazi concentration camps and "only 200,000 to 300,000" Jews had died in the camps.

Fellay, 50, said he told Williamson to "correct this nonsense" as soon as he saw the interview.

"It should not have needed a papal demand to do so," Fellay said, adding that he had suspended Williamson as head of the SSPX seminary at La Reja, Argentina, on Jan. 31. "I have forbidden him to make further public statements without my permission."

Possible prison sentence

Richard Williamson

Williamson could face up to three years in an Argentinean prison

Legal charges were also leveled against Williamson on Tuesday in Argentina. He is accused of denying the Holocaust, according to evidence brought to Judge Julian Ercolini's attention.

The head of Argentina's National Institute Against Discrimination (INADI), Maria Jose Lubertino, said Williamson would have to correct or confirm his claims and could potentially face other legal charges.

"He is obliged to clarify the veracity of his claims," Lubertino said, according to the AFP news agency. "We are going to make a formal legal complaint and he may face up to three years in prison."

Last week, Williamson told Der Spiegel he would reexamine the historical evidence before reaching a decision on whether to apologize.

"If I find proof I would rectify (earlier statements)... But all that will take time," he said, adding that he would not travel to Auschwitz.

Calls for police surveillance of SSPX

Pope Benedict XVI giving a blessing

Pope Benedict had hoped to reunited the Church by lifting the four bishops' excommunication

Fellay, Williamson and two other SSPX bishops were re-admitted to the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI two weeks ago to end a 21-year schism with an estimated 600,000 ultra-traditionalist Catholics who had refused to follow the pope.

SSPX, which opposes much of the religious doctrine put in place by the Second Vatican Council, is active in Germany, where it is opposed by most official Catholic bishops.

The lay people's committee of the Catholic diocese of Paderborn called Tuesday for SSPX groups to be put under police surveillance to establish if they were a threat to democracy in Germany.

Several politicians in the Social Democratic and Greens parties endorsed the call.

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