British bishop who denied the Holocaust thrown out of  Argentina

Argentina last night ordered an ultra-traditionalist British bishop who denied the Holocaust out of the country.

It gave Bishop Richard Williamson just 10 days to quit the South American country or to be kicked out by force.

'The interior minister ... orders Richard Nelson Williamson to leave the country within 10 days or be expelled,' said a statement issued by the Argentine government.

Pope Benedict XVI
Bishop Richard Williamson

The Pope, left, was embarrassed by the Bishop Richard Williamson's comments

Williamson became the focus of a huge row that engulfed the Roman Catholic Church after he said in an interview on Swedish television that the Nazis did not gas any Jews during the Second World War.

The interview was broadcast just days before Pope Benedict XVI lifted a decree of excommunication imposed on Williamson, a member of the Society of St Pius X, a breakaway Roman Catholic sect, by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II in 1988.

The Vatican later insisted that Pope Benedict XVI was unaware of the views of  Williamson when he agreed to lift his excommunication, and it said that the bishop would not hold any office until he fully and publicly recanted his opinions.

Williamson has refused to do so, however, while the Bavarian-born Pontiff, who is deeply embarrassed by the fiasco, has resorted to making repeated public condemnations of Holocaust denial as 'totally unacceptable'.

The Pope, who visited Auschwitz concentration camp in 2006 in an expression of atonement on behalf of his native German people, will in May visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem where he is expected to make even a further denunciation of the genocide.

The remarks of Bishop Williamson, a convert from Anglicanism who was educated at Winchester College and Cambridge University, earlier this month cost him his job as head of La Reja seminary on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital.

Williamson argues that there were no gas chambers and that no more than 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps, rather than the six million figure that is widely accepted by historians.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

A group of Holocaust survivors and their relatives at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. The Pope will visit in May

He has previously claimed that Jews are fighting for world domination, that the Americans planned 9/11, and that Freemasons have conspired to corrupt the Church. He has said the Vatican is under “the power of Satan”.

He has also denounced the musical The Sound of Music as satanic because it involved a nun allegedly seducing a German Army captain.

Williamson, 69, was born in London and joined the Catholic Church in 1971 under the influence of Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalist who discovered Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

A novice priest at the London Oratory Church, he entered the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s St Pius X seminary in protest at the liberal reforms of the Catholic Church and was ordained in 1976.

The French Archbishop Lefebvre fiercely opposed the disciplinary reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, in particular the declaration Nostra Aetate, which sought to end anti-Semitism in the Church by explicitly stating that the Jews cannot be held inherently and collectively culpable for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

When Lefebvre illicitly ordained Williamson as bishop they were both excommunicated by Pope John Paul II along with two other bishops. The Pope also ruled that person who joined the Society of St Pius X was automatically ejected from the Church.

But with more than half a million members around the world, Pope Benedict, 81, has been keen to bring the schism to an end and reunite the Lefebvrists with the Catholic Church.