Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X, told SPIEGEL that Bishop Richard Williamson's comments denying the scale of the Holocaust were "nonsense" and said he had told him to retract them.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), has apologized for the comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson denying the scale of the Holocaust and said he had asked Williamson to retract "this nonsense."
Fellay, superior general of the society since 1994, told SPIEGEL in written answers to questions that he had dismissed Williamson from his position as director of the La Reja Seminary outside Buenos Aires, the Argentinian capital, on Jan. 31, nine days before the dismissal was reported by an Argentinian news agency.
Swiss Bishop Bernard Fellay has called on Bishop Richard Williamson to retract his comments on the Holocaust.
Fellay described Williamson as "educated and cultivated" and said the Society didn't understand how the bishop could have been so mistaken. "If one holds a person in esteem, it's very sad," said Fellay.
Fellay stressed that the Society of Saint Pius X instructed its priests to limit themselves to teaching religious faith and practice. "I must concede that we weren't strict enough here," he said.
Williamson had told SPIEGEL in an e-mail and fax exchange published on Sunday that he was willing to "review the historical evidence" following public condemnation of his statement in the Swedish interview that no more than 300,000 Jews perished in the Holocaust and that there were no gas chambers.
Pope Benedict XVI angered Jewish leaders and some Catholics last month when he decided to lift the excommunication of Williamson and three other SSPX bishops.
Bishop Fellay, evidently intent on playing down Williamson's role, said the British bishop had no leadership functions within the society.
Reporting by Barbara Hans , Peter Wensierski and Steffen Winter
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