Catholic Group Expels Holocaust Denier
A Catholic group has expelled Bishop Richard Williamson, a known anti-Semite and Holocaust denier who sparked an international crisis in Jewish-Catholic relations in 2009, the Religious News Service reported.
The Swiss-based Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), an ultra-traditional group which opposes the liberalizing reforms made by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, including improvements in Jewish-Catholic relations, said it expelled Williamson over his refusal to “show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors.”
During a January 2009 television interview for a Swedish documentary program, Williamson denied the existence of gas chambers and questioned if six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. His comments came shortly before Pope Benedict XVI lifted his excommunication. The Vatican claimed it was unaware of his comments at the time of his ban being lifted.
The SSPX is attempting full integration with the Vatican after its leaders, including Williamson, were excommunicated from the church between 1988 and 2009. Williamson’s comments on the Holocaust caused a rift between the group and the Vatican, and may be one of the motives behind his dismissal.
Jewish leaders welcomed Williamson’s dismissal, but felt it was long overdue.
“This is a decision the SSPX leadership should have taken years ago,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder said. “The reasons now given for Williamson’s dismissal do not mention the damage this man has caused by spreading invective against Jews and others.”