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Richard Williamson, Holocaust-Denying Bishop, Will Review Evidence Before Changing His Mind

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BERLIN — A bishop who faces a Vatican demand to recant his denial of the Holocaust said he would correct himself if he is satisfied by the evidence, but insisted that examining it "will take time," a German magazine reported Saturday.

Richard Williamson is one of four bishops from the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican last month. The decision sparked outrage because Williamson had said in a television interview he did not believe any Jews were gassed during the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, the Vatican demanded that Williamson recant his denial before he can be admitted as a bishop into the Roman Catholic Church.

Williamson made clear he does not plan to comply immediately, and rejected a suggestion that he might visit the Auschwitz death camp, the weekly Der Spiegel reported.

"Since I see that there are many honest and intelligent people who think differently, I must look again at the historical evidence," the British bishop was quoted as saying.

"It is about historical evidence, not about emotions," he added, according to the report. "And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time."

The magazine suggested that he could make a personal visit to Auschwitz, set up by the Nazis in occupied Poland, which stands as the most powerful symbol of the Holocaust. More than 1 million people, mostly Jews, died there.

Williamson replied: "I will not go to Auschwitz," Der Spiegel said.

Der Spiegel said Williamson, who lives in Argentina, insisted on having questions faxed to him and sent his replies by e-mail. It said their authenticity was confirmed in a phone call by Williamson and a lawyer for the Society of St. Pius X.

Williamson has apologized to Pope Benedict XVI for having stirred controversy, but has not repudiated his comments, in which he also said only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed during World War II and none was gassed.

"I was convinced that my comments were right on the basis of my research in the '80s," Der Spiegel quoted Williamson as saying. "I must now examine everything again and look at the evidence."