A BRITISH CATHOLIC BISHOP has begun an appeal against a conviction in a German court of denying the Holocaust, claiming he was tricked into saying the comments by a TV interviewer.
Bishop Richard Williamson, known for his traditionalist views and his opposition to the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, was convicted and fined €10,000 by a German court last year for his comments, aired on Swedish TV.
Deutsche Welle says Williamson’s defence team argued that their client did not believe the comments would have been aired in Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a criminal offence.
He was convicted last year in absentia because the clips had made their way online where they were available to a German audience.
Williamson also claims he was asked ‘leading questions’ which led him to make the comments over which he was convicted.
In the interview, Williamson denied the existence of gas chambers and said there was little evidence that the Holocaust had actually taken place.
The number of Jews killed by Germany’s Nazi regime was probably closer to 300,000, he said – lower than the commonly accepted figure of six million.
Williamson is a member of the breakaway Catholic Society of St Pius X, which cut its own ties with Catholicism in 1988.
He has previously been excommunicated from the Church because he was ordained a bishop by a Cardinal unauthorised to do so. He rejected the legitimacy of this excommunication, which was reversed by Pope Benedict two years ago.
Among his other outspoken views are the opposition of women attending university, having a career or wearing trousers. He is also a supporter of authoritarian parenting.
He has previously described Jewish people as the ‘enemies of Christ’.