Holocaust-denier removed from Argentine seminary

Posted at 02/09/09 10:11 AM

BUENOS AIRES  – An ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic bishop who has drawn criticism from the Vatican and Jewish groups for denying the extent of the Holocaust has been removed as the head of an Argentine seminary, a Catholic Church official said on Sunday.

Pope Benedict angered Jewish leaders and progressive Catholics last month when he lifted excommunications on the bishop, Richard Williamson, and three other traditionalists to try to heal a 20-year-old schism within the Church.

The Vatican has since ordered the bishop to publicly recant his views, but Williamson recently told German media he must first review historical evidence before considering an apology.

In a statement, Father Christian Bouchacourt, the head of the Latin American chapter of the Catholic Society St. Pius X, said Williamson had been relieved as the head of the La Reja seminary on the outskirts of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.

"Monsignor Williamson's statements do not in any way reflect the position of our congregation," it said.

The Vatican has been at pains since the excommunications of the four bishops were lifted on January 24 to contain damage provoked by Williamson's comments, which he made during an interview with Swedish television last month.

The Vatican has said Pope Benedict, who expressed his full solidarity with Jews, was not aware of Williamson's denial of the Holocaust when he rehabilitated the bishops.