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Bishop Williamson apologizes, but Vatican spokesman says more needed

February 27, 2009

Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X apologized yesterday for the scandal caused by his Swedish television interview denying the extent of the Holocaust. The controversial bishop stopped short of retracting his suggestion that the Nazi effort at genocide has been exaggerated, but acknowledged that he is not a historian, and said that he was deeply sorry for the distress he had caused.

The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy. Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that 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. On Swedish television I gave only the opinion (..."I believe"..."I believe"...) of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since. However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St. Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused. To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize. As the Holy Father has said, every act of injust violence against one man hurts all mankind.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that Bishop Williamson's apology was inadequate-- as did leaders of both Jewish and Catholic groups in Germany. Father Lombardi reminded reporters that the Vatican had issued a public call for the bishop to "absolutely, unambiguously, and publicly distance himself from his position on the Holocaust."


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