Vatican city
Vatican cityReuters

British-born bishop Richard Williamson, who made headlines three years ago for denying the Holocaust, has been officially expelled from the Catholic breakaway group Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).

Williamson was banned on Wednesday for lack of respect and continuous disobedience, according to a statement from the Society of Saint Pius X's headquarters in Switzerland.

In a 1989 speech at Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes church in Sherbrooke, Canada, Williamson had claimed that, “There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies." He later reaffirmed his beliefs in an interview with Swedish television conducted in Germany in late 2008 and has continued to espouse his views in online forums.

"Monseigneur Richard Williamson, having distanced himself from the leadership and the government of the Saint Pius X Society over a period of several years and refusing to show respect and obedience deserved by his legitimate superiors, has been declared excluded," the SSPX said in a statement.

The head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Ronald S. Lauder welcomed the expulsion, but said it should have been done years ago and “it does nothing to restore the credibility of this organization”.

“It’s good that the hatemonger and Holocaust denier Williamson has finally been sent into the wilderness, but this is a decision the SSPX leadership should have taken years ago, when the cleric openly denied the existence of gas chambers. It is too little too late,” Lauder said. “The reasons now given for Williamson’s dismissal do not mention the damage this man has caused by spreading invective against Jews and others, be it from the pulpit, via his weekly newsletter and in his statements to the media.”

The traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X is a Catholic splinter group, which sprung up in the 1960s following disagreements over supposedly liberal changes proposed by the Vatican.