Regensburg, Germany - Amid a storm of outrage from Jews, Catholics and fellow traditionalists, a right-wing Catholic bishop, Richard Williamson, was declared unwelcome Wednesday in the German city where he appeared to deny the Holocaust last week.
To end a schism, Rome last week lifted its excommunication of four men who ran the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) outside the church for more than 20 years. British-born Williamson, who runs a seminary in Argentina, was one of them.
Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the Catholic bishop of the German city of Regensburg, said Wednesday that Williamson would not be allowed to set foot in his cathedral or any other church property.
The claim that the Nazi gas chambers had never existed, and "only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews" had been killed by the Nazis were "inhuman" and "sacrilegious," Mueller said.
The diocese released its response a day after a Holocaust memorial service in Regensburg, which is also the home base of Pope Benedict XVI and the site of a papal speech that upset Muslims in 2006.
Mueller said Williamson had placed himself outside the church.
Aides conceded that Mueller's ban was more symbolic than disciplinary, since Mueller has no control over the SSPX or its training centre at Zaitzkofen in his diocese.
Public prosecutors have opened an inquiry against Williamson over his remarks last week at Zaitzkofen. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany.
The German Conference of Catholic Bishops has also rejected Williamson's remarks. In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI expressed "solidarity" Wednesday with the Jewish people and said the reality of the Holocaust cannot be cancelled through any form of denial.
On Wednesday, the Israeli Chief Rabbi officially broke off ties with the Vatican in protest at the decision to lift the excommunication on Williamson.
The SSPX publicly dissociated itself on Tuesday from Williamson.
Historical research using population data suggests between 5 million and 6 million European Jews were killed by privation and violence during the Second World War. The Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem estimates it has names of up to 4 million.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews were "exterminated" with gas at Auschwitz death camp. (dpa)
- Oil firms falls as government considers export parity pricing model
- Essar Oil to sign $1 billion financing co-operation deal with CDB
- ONGC may sell stakes in deep-water blocks to Shell
- Huge scope for improving Indian shale gas estimates: ONGC
- HPCL Visakha refinery suffers major fire due to short circuit