Argentina expels Holocaust denier “traditionalist” bishop

Authorities in Argentina Feb. 19 gave a “traditionalist” Catholic bishop 10 days to leave the country or be expelled after he caused an international imbroglio by denying the extent of the Holocaust. Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X headed a seminary near Buenos Aires until he was removed this month. He has said he believes that there were no gas chambers and that no more than 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps, rather than the widely accepted 6 million. The Vatican has ordered him to retract his comments; Bishop Williamson said in response that he needs more time to review the evidence. (Reuters, Feb. 20)

See our last post on the politics of anti-Semitism.

  1. Vatican rejects pseudo-apology
    Whaddaya know? The Vatican has rejected an apology by Bishop Williamson, saying he needs to “unequivocally and publicly” withdraw his comments. Williamson said: “I can truthfully say I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them… To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologise.” (BBC News, The Guardian, Feb. 27)

    Superficially sounds pretty good, but on a close examination this is the kind of weasily pseudo-apology beloved of politicians—recanting nothing, and subtly placing the blame on the aggrieved party for taking offense. He significantly stops well short of actually saying he was wrong, or that the Holocaust happened—a propaganda device employed by fellow “Traditionalist” Mel Gibson in similar circumstances. Thank (if you will) God the Vatican didn’t buy this line. This isn’t only good news for historical memory, but for the English language and general intellectual climate.

    Ironically, we have had to call the Pope himself out for using the exact same propaganda device—not just once, but twice.