Yes, you read that right. Now, as anyone who reads this website knows, I am no fan of Bishop Williamson and have often advocated that he be immediately retired to a dog track in Boca Raton. But fair is fair.
There is an interview of Bishop Williamson with Der Spiegel. The headline of the interview is 'I Will Not Travel to Auschwitz.' Drudge, unfortunately, is reporting this as "Holocaust-Denying Bishop Digs In."
This is a gross mischaracterization of the interview and of the response about visiting Auschwitz. A separate question is why in the heck is Williamson giving interviews about these topics at all? I do not know when this question and answer occurred since Spiegel only says that it is the result of "an e-mail and fax exchange." So I will reserve judgment about whether Williamson was violating the gag order.
With that said, the interview itself did not add fuel to the fire and in no way was Williamson "digging in." Actually, it seems to me that Williamson is trying to dig his way out, albeit without the appearance of capitulation to pressure. As misguided and unhelpful as this may be, he is certainly not digging in.
As far as the Auschwitz comment, it is part of a larger discussion about his need to revisit the history of the Holocaust. Here is the context.
Williamson simply asserts that he will not travel to Auschwitz. Good, such a visit would be a total fiasco. Williamson is just indicating that it is not necessary for him to visit the site to take another look. I would guess that even the completely tone deaf Williamson understands how big a disaster that would be. He said that he understands that the study that convinced him about the lack of gas chambers has been debunked and he will look at that and other materials.
SPIEGEL: The Vatican is demanding that you retract your denial of the Holocaust, and it is threatening to not allow you to resume your activities as a bishop. How will you react?
Williamson: Throughout my life, I have always sought the truth. That is why I converted to Catholicism and became a priest. And now I can only say something, the truth of which I am convinced. Because I realize that there are many honest and intelligent people who think differently, I must now review the historical evidence once again. I said the same thing in my interview with Swedish television: Historical evidence is at issue, not emotions. And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time.
SPIEGEL: How can an educated Catholic deny the Holocaust?
Williamson: I addressed the subject in the 1980s. I had read various writings at the time. I cited the Leuchter report (eds. note: a debunked theory produced in the 1980s claiming erroneously that the Nazi gas chambers were technically impractical) in the interview, and it seemed plausible to me. Now I am told that it has been scientifically refuted. I plan now to look into it.
SPIEGEL: You could travel to Auschwitz yourself.
Williamson: No, I will not travel to Auschwitz. I've ordered the book by Jean-Claude Pressac. It's called "Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers." A printout is now being sent to me, and I will read it and study it.
Now while he certainly should not be talking about this in public anymore, it is a good thing that he revisit the evidence. Moreover, it is completely inappropriate and unfair to suggest that his assertion that he will not travel to Auschwitz is anyway tied to his intransigence on this subject. That is a falsehood, pure and simple.
Williamson made some closing comments in the interview that much of this hubbub in Germany is manufactured by those opposed to the Pope saying:
A single interview on Swedish television has dominated the news for weeks in Germany. Yes, it does surprise me. Is this the case with all violations of the law in Germany? Hardly. No, I am only the tool here, so that action can be taken against the SSPX and the pope. Apparently Germany's leftist Catholicism has not yet forgiven Ratzinger for becoming pope.Perhaps that is true, but you handed the mob the clubs they would need to beat the Pope. So from now on, do us all a favor. Shut up.