Holocaust-denying bishop holed up in the pampas

February 6, 2009

By Hugh Bronstein

BUENOS AIRES – After setting off an international furor last month when he denied on Swedish TV that Nazi gas chambers ever existed, Bishop Richard Williamson is holed up in the seminary he runs in Argentina and won’t talk to the press. 

The traditionalist bishop was excommunicated 20 years ago, but Pope Benedict rehabilitated him on Jan. 24, causing an outcry from Jews, Catholics and nonbelievers alike who object to Williamson being brought back into the Vatican’s fold.

So I headed out with a photographer to look for the bishop in the seminary in the quiet farming town of La Reja, an hour’s drive from Argentina’s capital. We found a stark-looking tan-colored church, located on extensive tree-lined grounds where a Mass was being held. 

It was clear we were in Williamson’s territory when we saw the women and girls in attendance had their heads and shoulders covered by scarves, in line with traditionalist doctrine. 

We entered the griounds, knocked on a door and were greeted by a bespectacled young priest who politely took my press card and said he would tell Williamson we were there. 

It looked like we were to be the first to interview the man at the center of a scandal that has included condemnation by the German government.  

But the priest soon came back out looking a bit shaken, saying that Williamson “absolutely” would not talk. “And when he says no, he means it,” he said. 

The local press was full of similar accounts by reporters who followed us out to La Reja only to be turned away. 

Williamson, a Briton, apologized to Pope Benedict for the “unnecessary distress and problems” the uproar had caused him, calling his statement “imprudent” in a letter sent to the Vatican last week and posted on his blog.

But he made no mention of the Holocaust and did not repudiate his comments, as many Jews had demanded.

The Pope, on Wednesday, called on Williamson to publicly recant his views on the Holocaust.

We figured this was it. Williamson was practically being ordered by the Pope himself to talk, so back I went to La Reja, this time with a TV cameraman.

The seminary gates were now locked and the young priest said Williamson still had nothing to say.

Another seminarian passed by, jogging in black robes and long pants despite the intense midday sun. He did not want to speak to us either, leaving us to wonder what goes on behind the barbed wire fence around the seminary.

Reuters photo by Jens Falk (Williamson at Frankfurt airport Feb 28, 2007)

15 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Third Rate Journalism to add some speculative “what goes on beyonf the barbed wire fence”.

Posted by Ted | Report as abusive

There is no point for Bishop Williamson to talk since the minds of those people who claim that his statement was a holocaust denial (where in truth and in fact it was not) do not know how to listen! They are imputing to the Bishop an intent which he never intended. What’s the point? Instead of refuting his findings, they are resorting to name calling and demonizing the Bishop! The Bishop made the right decision. Better be silent!

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive

Probably a good thing that he stays there. They are looking to toss him into prison in Germany for politically incorrect thoughts, big brother, style.

Posted by Christine | Report as abusive

Oh Bishop, don’t you know the press just wants to be your friend, they only report the truth!

Posted by Mike Stafford | Report as abusive

Bishop Williamson is entitled to his personal point of view and this witch hunt is quite obvious that there are powerful people with something to hide regarding this particular part of history. This is pure Orwellian stuff where you are attacked for what is a ‘Thought Crimes’. Truth or non truth is irrelevant as you Must think what Big Brother Demands. Stasi-Merkel certainly has shown her true colours.

Posted by Jonathon | Report as abusive

Why all the insults against the Society of St. Pius X, a monarchist but very tolerant group whom my brothers as a Rabbi in Lyon highly respects. They are open and not politically correct nice-talkers, but their founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, lost his own very pious Catholic father René Lefebvre, who helped some of my Jewish relatives escape to neutral Spain from the Nazi tyranny. Marcel lost his own dad to the Nazi’s tyranny campaign, and now the entire Catholic Church and Pius XII (who saved almost one million Jews by helping them flee, go underground, hide or emigrate! cf. Pinchas E. Lapide, Three Popes and the Jews), as well as this great SSPX group are being demonized by anti-religious mass media. It is insulting to me as a Jew, that the suffering of my relatives in the Shoah camps, is instrumentalized by anti-Catholic propagandists and their political agenda! I am insulted also by the ADL this time. They seem to have become anti-Catholic bigots themselves. I respect Bishop Fellay much. I only loathe Williamson’s hurtful statements. But why should I care? I just ignore his ridiculous claims. Nothing more. We as Jews should be solidarious with the Catholics.

Posted by Dr. Chaim Lehmann, France | Report as abusive

Hey!!What is new??The Jewish controlled media is the enemy of the Church and every thing is good for their agenda to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. So far the Jewish lobbies and moneyed groups has more or less controlled the liberal and faith-less bishops who believe in Vatican II more than in 2000 years of Catholic teachings (most of them in the Curia in Rome), and luckily the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X has stuck to their guns and have not adored the golden calf… These four bishops and the traditionalists are the only TRUE Catholics left and they will be the targets of the anti-Christ and their hordes (media and banks Zionists) for as long as they remain Catholics…Time of persecution is here…. blood will spill..the seed of the faith is the blood of Christians…remember?”Let His blood be on us and on our children…” “They” want more blood…Bishop Willianson may be the first….more will follow and we are legions wanting to remain Catholics unto martyrdom!!

Posted by Jean MOREL | Report as abusive

Jean Morel, you’re using some very broad terms like”Jewish controlled media” and “Jewish lobbies and moneyed groups” in this comment. Could you be more precise and back up your opinion with some facts and names concerning the media, lobbies and groups you think are doing this? I’d be especially interested in hearing which groups and lobbies you think have controlled which “liberal and faith-less bishops” in the Curia.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

There is an intersting article on ‘the issue’ at http://truerestoration.blogspot.com/2009  /02/true-holocaust.htmlWorth the read.

Posted by Straightalker | Report as abusive

Tom Heneghan,If you want the broad terms defined more precisely, you can read Kevin MacDonald’s Culture of Critique. The aggression of orthodox diaspora Judaism is well documented.Jean Morel is more than correct. He is “on the mark.”Williamson, sadly, courts true martyrdom from Jewish religious extremists, but the Christ is most certainly in him; his self less commitment to the truth in the face of the immense power of worldwide Judaism a reflection of orthodox Catholicism at its absolute best.

Posted by Rich Faussette | Report as abusive

[...] Williamson is “holed up in the seminary he runs in Argentina,” and isn’t talking to reporters. [...]

[...] about Lefebvre’s father.      A recent Reuters new story on Williamson (Go to: http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2009  /02/06/holocaust-denying-bishop-holed-u p-in-the-pampas/#comm…) contains, among other comments sent in and posted by readers from around the world, a statement by [...]

Williamson does not need the pope, nor the lifting of his excommunication. This act merely exemplifies the meanaignlessness of the papacy, the Catholic Apostolic Church, and reflects the meaninglessness of Catholicism.Since Vatican II, the RC has lost its rights to Western Man. We can no longer sanction a religious cult that no longer holds western rights inviolate against the onslought of alien interests regarding our survival. The Catholic Church no longer holds us dear to our own survival. They are a detriment to our civilization and thus are working towards our exctinction.We need a new paradigm, as this one has lost its interests within our peoples.We cannot loterate a religion that does not uphold he truth.

Posted by Augustine | Report as abusive

Hey Augustine, have you ever read the documents of the Second Vatican Council?Probaby not! CAn you explain to me what the Vatican II Council is and what was writeen in a short essay?Most people have noT READ THE DOCUMENTS OF THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL. MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW AND READ THE DOCUMENTS AND ASSUME THINGS AND MADE UP CLAIMS SAYING ITS IN THE “COUNCIL”YOU AUGUSTINE SIR ARE JUST AS IGNORANT!ALSO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS THE FIRST TO ESTABLISH UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGE THROUGHOUT EUROPE DURING THE MIDDLE AGES.

Posted by MArk | Report as abusive

What I think is really sad as I read these comments is the venom in them, particularly towards Jews. It seems ironic to find so much anti-Semitism coming from those who purport to love Jesus–he was, after all, a Jew. There isn’t one loving comment here on this board. I truly believe it is possible to express one’s opinion without being openly hostile or pulling in stereotypes.I must say, though, that I cannot understand how people can deny a historical event of such monumental effects as the Holocaust. It took not only Jewish lives, but also Catholic and Protestant lives. Priests died in concentration camps, too, caught up in Hitler’s campaign of genocide. Some Catholics died trying to protect their Jewish neighbors from the death camps. Does Bishop Williamson want to ignore the sacrifices of these Catholics?

Posted by Denise | Report as abusive

Tom Haneghan wanted me to be emore precise…..Follows the latest polls on how most Europeans view Jews and their money and media control and their ‘victimisation’ strategy: study from the mouth of the Anti-Defamation League :World: EuropeEuropeans blame Jews for economic crisisNearly half of Europeans surveyed believe Jews are not loyal to their country and believe that they have “too much power” in business and finance.Thursday, February 12, 2009By Spero News http://www.speroforum.com/site/subs.asp? b=1http://www.speroforum.com/site/subs.a sp?b=1Article Tools? http://www.speroforum.com/site/print.asp  ?idarticle=18122Print? http://www.speroforum.com/site/mbarticle .asp?id=18122DiscussA new survey of seven countries across Europe shows millions continue to believe the classical anti-Semitic canards that have persistently pursued Jews through the centuries.The findings released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on February 11 revealed that nearly half of the Europeans surveyed believe Jews are not loyal to their country and more than one-third believe they have “too much power” in business and finance.Attitudes Toward Jews in Seven European Countries (see link below) an opinion survey of 3,500 adults – 500 in each of the seven European countries – Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – conducted December 1, 2008 – January 13, 2009, found 31% of the respondents across Europe blame Jews in the financial industry for the current global economic crisis.Overall, 40% of Europeans in the countries polled believe that Jews have too much power in the business world, with more than half of Hungarian, Spanish and Polish respondents agreeing with that statement.The findings were similar to those of a 2007 ADL survey that found significant percentages of Europeans continue to believe in some of the most pernicious anti-Semitic stereotypes. This poll confirms that anti-Semitism remains alive and well in the minds of many Europeans,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “It is distressing that there seems to be no movement away from the constancy of anti-Semitic held views, with accusations about Jews of disloyalty, control and responsibility for the death of Jesus.”In the wake of the global financial crisis, the strong belief of excessive Jewish influence on business and finance is especially worrisome,” Mr. Foxman added. “Clearly, age old anti-Semitic stereotypes die hard, particularly on a continent which is witnessing a surge in violent attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions following the war in Gaza.”A comparison with the 2007 survey indicates that over the past two years levels of anti-Semitism have remained steady in six of the seven countries tested. The United Kingdom was the only country in which there was a marked decline. Meanwhile, the percentage of those believing that Jews “have too much power in the business world” increased by 7% in Hungary, 6% in Poland and 5% in France.Respondents across the continent were asked a series of indicator questions representing the most pernicious notions of anti-Semitism and whether or not they thought the following four statements were “probably true” or “probably false.”• Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country.• Jews have too much power in the business world.• Jews have too much power in international financial markets.• Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.Respondents were also asked whether they agree or disagree with the following statement:• The Jews are responsible for the death of ChristFinally, respondents were asked,• If their opinion of Jews was influenced by actions taken by the State of Israel and whether they believed the violence directed against European Jews was a result of anti-Jewish feelings or anti-Israel sentiment.Findings SummaryAttitudes Toward Jews• Overall, nearly half of those surveyed in the seven countries believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country. A majority of respondents in Germany, Poland and Spain believe that this statement is “probably true;” in Spain, it is 64%.• High levels of those surveyed across Europe still believe the traditional anti-Jewish canard that “Jews have too much power in the business world.” Overall, nearly 40% of all respondents believe this stereotype to be true; in Hungary it is 67%.• Similarly, European respondents still adhere to the notion that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets.” Overall, 41% of those surveyed cling to the traditional stereotype; in Spain it is 74%.• Large portions of the European public continue to believe that Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. Overall, 44% of those surveyed believe it is “probably true” that Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust. A majority of respondents in Austria, Hungary and Poland believe it to be true.• Overall, 23% of those surveyed continue to blame Jews for the death of Jesus.• Overall, 23% of those surveyed say that their opinion of Jews is influenced by the actions taken by the State of Israel. Of those whose opinions are so influenced, 58% say that their opinion of Jews is worse as a result of the actions taken by Israel.• In the seven European countries polled, 38% of those surveyed believe that violence directed against Jews is a result of anti-Jewish feelings, while 24% believe it is a result of anti-Israel sentiment. Hungarian and Polish respondents are most likely to believe that anti-Jewish sentiment is the reason behind violence directed against Jews in their countries. Spain is the only country in which more respondents (38%) cited anti-Israel sentiment as opposed to anti-Jewish feelings (26%) as the main cause of the violence directed against Jews.• Overall, 57% of respondents believe that their government is doing enough to ensure the safety and security of its Jewish citizens. Austrian and German respondents are most likely to think that their government is providing enough protection for its Jewish citizens, while more than a quarter of respondents in Hungary and Poland do not believe their government is providing enough protection for its Jewish citizens.Global Financial Crisis• The survey showed that despite the complexities of the current global economic environment, Jews receive a disturbing amount of blame for the financial crisis. Overall, 31% of respondents across Europe blame Jews in the financial industry either “a great deal,” “a good amount” or “a little” for the global financial meltdown.Country by Country Findings on Anti-Semitic AttitudesIn responding “probably true” to the statement, “Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country,” the 2009 survey found:Austria – 47%, down from 54% in 2007France – 38%, down from 39% in 2007Germany – 53%, up from 51% in 2007Hungary – 40%, down from 50% in 2007Poland – 63%, up from 59% in 2007Spain – 64%, up from 60% in 2007The United Kingdom – 37%, down from 50% in 2007In responding “probably true” to the statement, “Jews have too much power in the business world,” the 2009 survey found:Austria – 36%, down from 37% in 2007France – 33%, up from 28% in 2007Germany – 21%, unchanged from 2007Hungary – 67%, up from 60% in 2007Poland – 55%, up from 49% in 2007Spain – 56%, up from 53% in 2007The United Kingdom – 15%, down from 22% in 2007In responding “probably true” to the statement “Jews have too much power in international financial markets,” the 2009 survey found:Austria – 37%, down from 43% in 2007France – 27%, down from 28% in 2007Germany – 22%, down from 25% in 2007Hungary – 59%, down from 61% in 2007Poland – 54%, unchanged from 2007Spain –74%, up from 68% in 2007The United Kingdom – 15%, down from 21% in 2007In responding “probably true” to the statement “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust,” the 2009 survey found:Austria – 55%, up from 54% in 2007France – 33%, down from 40 % in 2007Germany – 45%, unchanged from 2007Hungary – 56%, down from 58% from 2007Poland – 55%, down from 58% in 2007Spain – 42%, down from 46% in 2007The United Kingdom – 20%, down from 28% in 2007The ADL commissioned First International Resources to conduct the survey. Fielded in Europe by Taylor Nelson Sofres, it was conducted in the native language of each of the countries among the general population. The margin of error for each country is +/- 4% at 95% level of confidence.Info: http://www.adl.org/Public%20ADL%20Anti-S emitism%20Presentation%20February%202009 %20_3_.pdf

Posted by Jean MOREL | Report as abusive

The father of Mgr. Levebre helped my mother to escape from the nazi’s in France. She was hiding till the end of the war and received food from the uncle of Mgr. Levebre. And if you do not believe this why should you believe other stories?Huubke Vosstein

Posted by Huub Vosstein | Report as abusive