Argentina expels Holocaust- denying bishop

Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:30am GMT

By Hugh Bronstein

LA REJA, Argentina (Reuters) - Argentina has given a Roman Catholic bishop 10 days to leave the country or be expelled after he caused an international uproar by denying the extent of the Holocaust, the government said on Thursday.

Bishop Richard Williamson, an ultra-traditionalist who headed a seminary near Buenos Aires until earlier this month, has said he believes there were no gas chambers and that no more than 300,000 Jews died in Germany's Nazi concentration camps, rather than the 6 million figure that is widely accepted.

The Vatican ordered him to retract his comments and the British-born Williamson responded that needed more time to review the evidence.

"The interior minister ... orders Richard Nelson Williamson to leave the country within 10 days or be expelled," Argentina's government said in a statement.

Williamson's views were anti-Semitic and "deeply offended Argentine society," the government said. Argentina is home to one of the world's largest Jewish communities outside of Israel.

At the seminary outside Buenos Aires, in the rural town of La Reja, two clergymen told Reuters that Williamson had already left the sprawling, tree-lined compound.

"It's very sad but there you have it," said a bespectacled, young Frenchman who identified himself as Juan de Dios, or Juan of God.

Neither he nor priest Alvaro Calderon was willing to say if Williamson had left for good.   Continued...

<p>British-born Bishop Richard Williamson in a file photo. REUTERS/Jens Falk</p>
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