Sun, Mar 01, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Williamson’s apology is not enough, Vatican says

AP , VATICAN CITY

An apology from a bishop who denied the Holocaust wasn’t good enough, the Vatican said, adding that he must repudiate his views if he wants to be a Roman Catholic clergyman.

The statement by Bishop Richard Williamson “doesn’t appear to respect the conditions” the Vatican set out for him, the Reverend

Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the pope, said on Friday.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, praised the Vatican in a statement for “standing firm and not permitting a person who believes that the Nazi Holocaust is a lie to have any role in the church.”

In an interview broadcast last month on Swedish state TV and in previous letters and speeches, Williamson denied 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, saying about 200,000 or 300,000 were murdered. He said none was gassed.

Williamson apologized for his remarks on Thursday upon his arrival in his native Britain after being ordered to leave Argentina. He said he would never have made them if he had known “the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise.”

But he didn’t say he had been wrong or that he no longer believed what he had said.

On Friday, German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said Germany could issue a European-wide arrest warrant on hate crimes charges for Williamson since the Swedish TV interview was conducted in Germany.

State prosecutors in Regensburg, Germany, have opened a preliminary investigation into whether Williamson broke German laws against Holocaust denial.

His remarks prompted widespread outrage among Jewish groups and others. They also embarrassed the Vatican since they were broadcast just days before the Holy See announced it was lifting Williamson’s excommunication and that of three other bishops.

The four, members of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X, had been excommunicated after being consecrated as bishops without papal consent in 1988.

In his statement on Friday, Lombardi said that Williamson’s comments were not addressed to the pontiff or to the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei commission, which has been dealing with the Society of St Pius X ever since its bishops were excommunicated.

Rather, Williamson issued a statement that was carried by the Zenit Catholic news agency and posted on the society’s British Web site and its news agency, www.dici.org.

In it, Williamson said he was only giving the opinion of a “non-historian” during the Swedish TV interview. He said that opinion was “formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since.”

Jewish groups were also not impressed with his apology.

“This is another sham statement that doesn’t recant any of his earlier remarks about the Holocaust,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL national director and a Holocaust survivor. “Bishop Williamson must unequivocally acknowledge the full extent of the Holocaust and recognize the fact of the existence of the gas chambers.”

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