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Ultra-Nationalist Bishop Leaves Argentina


A British Catholic bishop who caused an international uproar by denying the Holocaust has left Argentina, after the government in Buenos Aires threatened to expel him.

Television images showed ultra-traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson raising his fist and scuffling with a reporter Tuesday as he prepared to board a flight for London. Two men accompanying the bishop restrained the reporter.

Last week, Argentina's government gave Williamson 10 days to leave the country, where he had lived. Officials cited irregularities in his immigration application and his remarks, which were described as an insult to "Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity."

Williamson denied on Swedish television the existence of Nazi gas chambers, saying no more than 300,000 Jews died in Germany's concentration camps, instead of the six million agreed upon by historians.

The comments embroiled Pope Benedict in controversy as the pontiff recently lifted an excommunication decree imposed on Williamson for a different matter.

Pope Benedict lifted the excommunication of Williamson and three other bishops in an attempt to heal a split with traditionalists who do not accept the Roman Catholic Church's reforms of the early 1960s. The four bishops had been excommunicated because they had been consecrated without Vatican approval.

The Vatican has demanded that Williamson recant his Holocaust denial before he can be readmitted to the Church.

Williamson headed the ultra-traditional Society of Pius X near Buenos Aires until he was removed from the position earlier this month.

The German magazine, Der Spiegel, has reported that Williamson says he will only recant his Holocaust denial if he can find proof he is wrong.

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