Sunday, 19 September 2010


While leaving Buenos Aires, Williamson shook his fist at a television reporter who tried to ask him a question


The Pope's Nemesis

Holocaust-Denying Bishop Back in Britain

Bishop Richard Williamson, whose denial of the Holocaust plunged the Vatican into scandal at the end of January, is back in Britain after being expelled from Argentina.

It was a large crowd which gathered in Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow airport on Wednesday morning. But instead of carrying balloons and flowers, they held cameras and notepads. They were there for British Airways flight from Buenos Aires, a flight carrying the now infamous Bishop Richard Williamson -- the Holocaust denier whose positions have recently rocked the Vatican.

Sky News, BBC, CNN, Germany's ZDF -- an alphabet soup of media waited patiently for passengers to emerge, as did a handful of armed police. An Orthodox Jew leaning on a police barricade was taken aside, his papers carefully checked. He was just waiting for his family flying in from New York, he said.

A blonde woman bustled around to the media representatives, giving interviews and handing out business cards. She said she was there to provide Williamson legal assistance should he be arrested.

As it turned out, her help wasn't necessary. Williamson appeared shortly before 8 a.m. surrounded by photographers who had managed to find their way past the security controls. Escorted by a dozen police, Williamson hurried through the arrival hall, ignoring questions yelled at him by journalists, a slight smile on his lips. He climbed into a silver Land Rover and drove away.

As during his departure the night before from Argentina, Williamson declined to speak to the gathered media.

Williamson was back in Great Britain after Argentinean authorities threw him out of the country both for his denial of the Holocaust and for "irregularities" in his immigration application. The government condemned Williamson's comments on the Holocaust for being "deeply offensive to Argentine society, the Jewish people and humanity."

In late January, Williamson told a Swedish public television station, "I believe there were no gas chambers." He also said that only 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps rather than the 6 million accepted by historians. Shortly after he made the statements, Pope Benedict XVI -- apparently unaware of Williamson's position on the Holocaust -- revoked his excommunication. Williamson had been excommunicated years before due to to activities connected to his membership in the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX).

The ensuing debate about Holocaust denial within the Catholic Church has been harmful for Benedict XVI. Since the scandal broke, the pope has repeatedly expressed solidarity with the Jews and demanded that Williamson must retract his statements before he can be reinstated as a bishop.

Williamson has so far refused to do so. In an statements made to SPIEGEL, he said: "I can only say something the truth of which I am convinced. Because I realize that there are many honest and intelligent people who think differently, I must now review the historical evidence once again. ... If I find this evidence, I will correct myself."

Williamson wore dark sunglasses, a baseball cap and an overcoat as he made his way through the boarding area in Argentina on Tuesday. When an Argentine TV reporter tried to get a comment from him before he boarded his flight, Williamson raised his fist to the journalist's face.
Bishop Richard Williamson arrived back in Britain on Wednesday morning, arriving at Heathrow Airport just before 8 a.m.

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