Bishop to 'look again' at Holocaust

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A bishop who faces a Vatican demand to recant his denial of the Holocaust said he would correct himself if he was satisfied by the evidence, but insisted that examining it "will take time," a German magazine reported.

Richard Williamson is one of four bishops from the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican last month. The decision sparked outrage because Williamson had said in a television interview last month that he did not believe any Jews were gassed during the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, the Vatican demanded that Williamson recant his denial before he be admitted as a bishop into the Roman Catholic Church.

Williamson made clear that he did not plan to comply immediately, and rejected a suggestion to visit Auschwitz, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported.

"Since I see that there are many honest and intelligent people who think differently, I must look again at the historical evidence," the British bishop was quoted as saying.

The magazine suggested that he could make a personal visit to Auschwitz, a death camp set up by the Nazis in occupied Poland, where more than one million people died, most of them Jews. "I will not go to Auschwitz," said Williamson, who lives in Argentina.

Williamson has apologized to Pope Benedict XVI for having stirred up controversy, but he has not repudiated his comments, in which he also asserted that only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed in all of World War II and that none of them were gassed.

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Randll Reese Besch - 2/13/2009

There is a very good reason why he won't visit the site of one of the places he denies exists in the first place. But then how would any Christian go to the site of Jesus' burial to sift 'his bones' if found? It is on that same level as far as he is concerned.

Ratzinger doing this reminds me he was a Hitler Youth and worked in the Vatican's Inquisition section (Defenders of the Faith, called now) to keep people in line with the church all of those years. A curious state of developement I must say.

Jonathan Dresner - 2/9/2009

What bugs me about this is the idea that this guy is some kind of historical authority whose judgement on the evidence is meaningful. If he decides to recant his long-held beliefs -- it's not like the "honest and intelligent people" who know the actual history sprung up overnight and surprised him -- under threat of continued excommunication, etc., it will have very little moral or historical authority. If, however, he decides to stick to his bullet-free guns, it'll be seen as vindication of the pseudo-skeptics who keep historical absurdities like this alive.