LONDON (JTA) — A Holocaust revisionist bishop landed in his native Britain to face criticism from activists who have described him as an anti-Semite.
Bishop Richard Williamson was asked by the interior ministry in Argentina to leave the country last week. Williamson was fired from the seminary he headed near Buenos Aires earlier this month.
The Roman Catholic bishop decided to return to his home country, where he knew he could not be turned away.
In a Swedish television interview, Williamson said he believed "that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler." He said no more than a few hundred Jews died in Europe during World War II.
The director and founder of Britain’s National Holocaust Centre, Dr. Stephen Smith, who is also the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said “The Argentinean government did the right thing by asking Richard Williamson to leave Argentina and publicly denouncing his views on the Holocaust.”
Smith added, “As a British citizen, it is not surprising he is returning home, but the U.K. must not be a safe haven for him and people like him. Denying the Holocaust is not the problem. The real problem is the anti-Semitism that lies behind it. Bishop Williamson is not a Holocaust denier; he is an anti-Semite who denies the Holocaust. It is never the other way around.”
Only a day after the British prime minister added his signature to the London Declaration on combating anti-Semitism, Smith said, “We may not have specific legislation to address Holocaust denial, but we do have legislation to deal with racial and religious hatred. It needs to be used.”
The pope sparked a furor last month when he reinstated Williamson and three other excommunicated bishops, all members of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, to the Church.