Embarrassment for the Catholic Church: Bishop Williamson Unrepentent in Holocaust Denial

By and Steffen Winter

Controversial Bishop Richard Williamson continues in his denial of the Holocaust, embarrassing both the Society of St. Pius to which he belongs and the Vatican. But the SSPX is becoming increasingly powerful despite the controversy and is attracting more and more supporters.

Richard Williamson's complaints begin when he looks out the window of his office in Saint George's House, the London headquarters of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Just past the garden, at the base of a small hill in verdant Wimbledon Park, are a pond, golf course, croquet club and, most famously, the tennis courts.

The old man at the window likes tennis, which he admiringly calls the "greatest spectacle," a game that involves "one spirit, one will." In tennis, he says, it's as if two gladiators were fighting each other, "just without bloodshed."

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But Williamson would not be true to form if he didn't smell damnation in even the noblest of spectacles. The outfits worn by female tennis players, the bishop says indignantly, "hardly reach past the middles of their thighs." Williamson has noticed female fans wearing even shorter skirts. "Aren't there are any men left who tell their daughters, sisters, wives or mothers that this sort of outfit is only meant for the eyes of their own husbands?"

The world has become a smaller place for the notorious bishop. Since he denied the existence of the Holocaust on television more than a year ago, causing serious problems for Pope Benedict XVI and almost triggering a revolt against Rome by the Catholic faithful, the ultra-conservative SSPX has kept him in virtual quarantine at its Wimbledon headquarters. Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX, likens Williamson to uranium: "It's dangerous when you have it," he says, but you can't "simply leave it by the side of the road."

'A Huge Lie'

Fellay knows what he is talking about. Williamson has no intention of revising his views on the gas chambers. When Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld sent him a book about the history of the Holocaust last year, he set it aside, unread. "The fact is that the 6 million people who were supposedly gassed represent a huge lie," he wrote recently to his fellow members of the SSPX, noting that "a completely new world order was built" on this "fact." The Jews, he added, "became ersatz saviors thanks to the concentration camps."

Williamson, after refusing to pay a fine of €12,000 ($16,800), faces charges of inciting racial hatred in a trial in the southern German city of Regensburg set to begin on April 16. Although it is unclear whether he will appear at the trial in person, the bishop has already assembled a legal team that includes German lawyer Matthias Lossmann and the British attorney who once represented former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in his fight against extradition.

Both the obstinate bishop's refusal to abandon his preposterous Holocaust theories and the trial in Regensburg are as embarrassing to the SSPX as they are to the Vatican, which is currently in direct talks with the fundamentalists. During the monthly meetings, three theologians from the SSPX sit, almost as they were participating in another Vatican council, across from three papal theologians in the Palace of the Holy Office, which is home to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and is adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica. This is as close to the Vatican as it gets. Left-leaning and liberal theologians like Hans Küng have spent their lives dreaming in vain of such an encounter.

The 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II, whose reforms helped to modernize the Catholic Church, is high up on the agenda of the members of the SSPX, who want to see it reversed as much as possible. For them, ecumenism is the stuff of the devil, the recognition of Judaism is a source of contention and the modern form of the liturgy is an impossible act of assimilation to the zeitgeist.

Their goal is to be recognized in Rome again after 22 years. The Vatican also wants to put an end to the division within the Church. But Williamson, who has been a thorn in the side of those seeking rapprochement, isn't going away.

If a fundamentalist bishop like Williamson were to become unaffiliated, he would have the potential to divide the church once again. He could consecrate new priests at any time or establish his own, even more radical movement. This would be inconvenient for both Benedict and the SSPX, which is why Williamson is being tolerated.

'These Men Are Rats'

Williamson's refuge is a small guest room on Arthur Road in southern London, where he has a view of Centre Court at Wimbledon. The room is in a plain-looking, newer building, adorned only with two columns flanking the front door. A sign at the entrance to a chapel in the garden calls upon the faithful to pray during the SSPX's upcoming "Rosary Crusade." Father Lindström, a gaunt Swede, ensures that only the right people are allowed to visit Williamson.

The bishop has a reputation for being unpredictable. Sometimes he gives the staff instructions to tell visitors that he is not home, but on one occasion he sat down next to a Christmas tree for an interview with a video blogger. An interview with SPIEGEL, which had been scheduled for some time, happened to fall on a bad day. Williamson was only willing to appear on a stair landing, and even then, all that was visible of him were one of his arms and his hand wearing his bishop's ring. His voice was easy to recognize, but he refused to speak directly with his interviewers, leaving Lindström to run up and down the stairs, delivering the questions and answers.

Later, Williamson decided to continue the interview with SPIEGEL by e-mail -- even though he was only in the next room. The visit had made him very angry. "We are at war," he raged, "and you are on the wrong side." German liberal intellectuals are as distasteful to him as short skirts on the tennis court. "These men are, at least objectively, rats," he wrote in a reference to SPIEGEL journalists.

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1.
theray 02/01/2010
Zitat von sysopControversial Bishop Richard Williamson continues in his denial of the Holocaust, embarrassing both the Society of St. Pius to which he belongs and the Vatican. But the SSPX is becoming increasingly powerful despite the controversy and is attracting more and more supporters. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,675163,00.html
If I were somebody important in the Vatican, I would pay mr.Williamson a ticket to Dachau, not too far away from München and there he could be finally convinced that the Holocaust existed... Probably, Williamson is too much of a coward in admitting he is antisemitic, period. The Vatican´s silence, and by the way, the British removal of its content in school history lessons, shows the cowardice in modern times. Last but not least, what´s the big problem, dont we all believe in the same god? jews, cristians and muslims..?
2. Negation, which one of us can say he does not do it?
ambabelle 02/02/2010
Paris, February 2nd Let us assume for a moment that we can overcome our distaste for the negation of the holocaust. It is a difficult “let us assume”, it can be done, we do it daily in mathematics. Assuming that we overcome our distaste, what good can we say about this attitude? Is there not something beautiful in a man who cannot accept that Men in brown shirts or black shorts, or Men of this and that kind, are able to murder millions of their brothers? Even for the author accepting that in a world populated by Adams and Eves, those humans would be willing to murder thousands and thousands of their brothers and sisters is something that cannot be overcome, the only hope remaining being the mathematics concept that the author lives in a mathematical bubble world, that what I perceive as “reality” is a reflection of the mud inside myself. Our scientific studies at the University has been to learn to distrust anything. Did Joan d'Arc really deliver Orleans? Do the poles suddenly invert their polarity? Is it true that by one point you can only draw one parallel line to a line? (the statement is neither true nor untrue as the answer starts with “depending on ….) During the post War period we have been confronted with so many heresies that nothing should surprise us. What about a French trained youngster who became chief of Cambodia and decided to kill all the “perverted citizens who were not sharing his thoughts”. To his last day like Hitler he believed that he was right. Those extreme cases, are they not also true for each one of us, so entrenched in our convictions that we are willing to take moderate extreme actions against anybody who thinks or worse acts differently? Which one of us has any control about the “thoughts” that run like cockroaches in his head? Why do we hate this and that group, considering as evil, why do we take such comfort in living in the pond where all the ducks look and behave like us? The author has lived in Eastern Africa (they had farms in Africa and I helped them avoid starvation), the author was terrified by how much one tribe would consider another tribe as non-humans, the killing of which was not murder but a survival procedure. Ambabelle, Un éléphant dans mon carburateur. Ps : It can only come as a post scriptum as it is so horrible to consider: It will happen again!!!
3.
BTraven 02/02/2010
It would have been fair had the Spiegel mentioned that his website cannot be reached anymore without registering - a sign that it must have hacked or spam-mailed quite often. Same of his articles were readable. One word to the French who seem to flock to the masses delivered in Latin – I can understand them. It is difficult to find an “event” you can participate in which is so ceremonial. http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=1872714663680800365&ei=5uxnS5CRG6Xe2wK4_qm_CA&q=latin+mass&hl=en#
4.
symewinston 02/02/2010
No! it is not beautiful, it is disgusting. to deny the evil that men do is evil also.
5.
BTraven 02/03/2010
Zitat von therayIf I were somebody important in the Vatican, I would pay mr.Williamson a ticket to Dachau, not too far away from München and there he could be finally convinced that the Holocaust existed... Probably, Williamson is too much of a coward in admitting he is antisemitic, period. The Vatican´s silence, and by the way, the British removal of its content in school history lessons, shows the cowardice in modern times. Last but not least, what´s the big problem, dont we all believe in the same god? jews, cristians and muslims..?
I think the problem is not that he denies the Holocaust but how to deal with him who, by the way, is quite intelligent which makes the case even more complicate because we are not capable of evaluating him. Does he want to provoke? Does he really not believe that people can be so brutal? Perhaps, only a psychologist will be able to assess what causes him to believe that the Holocaust was made up by people. The Vatican whose ultra-conservative wing enabled leading nazis of whom most of the committed crimes against humanity to flee to Argentina is, unfortunately, not interesting in tackling the matter in a way people who are insulted by Williamson’s denial would satisfy. Wojtyla would have handled the affair total differently because of all Catholics the Poles suffered most of all under the occupation of Germany. .
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