(RNS) The case of an outspoken schismatic bishop headed
back to court on Monday (July 4), with lawyers for British Bishop Richard
Williamson saying he shouldn't be punished for downplaying the severity of the
was convicted last year after he told a Swedish broadcast team in 2008 that
"no more than 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps ... not
one of them by gassing in a gas chamber."
full scope of the Holocaust is a crime under German law, and although the
interview was with a Swedish news outlet, Williamson made the statements in Germany,
where it eventually became viewable online.
court fined Williamson 10,000 euros ($14,500) in the case last year. A decision
on his appeal is expected by Monday (July 11).
became an overnight celebrity -- and a deep embarrassment for the Vatican --
for his Holocaust denials after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the 1988
excommunication of Williamson and three other SSPX bishops.
later said the pope did not know about Williamson's views on the Holocaust at
the time, but conceded that "closely following the news available on the
Internet" would have flagged his troublesome statements.
did not appear at the appeals court, claimed through his attorneys that he
should not be liable for the breach of German law, since he gave the interview
to a Swedish film crew with the understanding that the segment would only be
aired in Sweden.
client did not put it on the (Internet)," said his attorneys, as quoted by
the German Press Agency dpa.
of his schismatic Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), meanwhile, seemed determined to
distance themselves from Williamson and his remarks.
the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, associates of SSPX -- which generally rejects
the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s -- said
Williamson had a long history of being out of touch with reality. Maximilian
Krah, legal representative of the group, said Williamson was eccentric and had
problems with reality.
The issue continues
to reverberate in German society, especially since SSPX again made headlines
just before the appeal trial's start with the ordination of some 20 priests
without the Vatican's permission.
the excommunications in a bid to restore relations with the traditionalist
groups, but has insisted SSPX accept all reforms from Vatican II if they want
to have normalized relations with Rome.