Holocaust denial 'bishop' sets up breakaway traditionalist group in Kent, takes in clergy accused of sex abuse

Clergy accused of sex abuse are finding refuge with a breakaway order run by a traditionalist British priest in Kent.

Richard Williamson was automatically excommunicated after he was illicitly ordained as a bishop by the late Marcel Lefebvre of the ultra-conservative Society of St Pius X (SSPX). He was expelled from the society after appealed unsuccessfully against his conviction for holocaust denial in a German court.

In a Swedish TV broadcast, he had denied gas chambers were used in the Holocaust and also claimed the number of Jewish people killed was far fewer than the six million figure usually cited.

Richard Williamson was expelled by the Society of St Pius X in 2009 after he outed himself as a Holocaust-denier.Reuters

According to a new Swedish television documentary broadcast yesterday, Williamson now leads the SSPX Resistance in Kent, a new breakaway group.

Two former SSPX priests accused of sex abuse have found a home in his order, the Swedish broadcast claimed.

The programme claimed SSPX protected priests and failed to report allegations of abuse to the police. After internal trials over the accusations, the two men in question left the SSPX and joined Williamson's splinter group in Broadstairs, Kent.

The spin off describes itself as 'a group of traditional Catholics who wish to practise their faith without compromise to liberalism or modernism'.

It says recent reforms have 'contributed and are still contributing to the destruction of the church, to the ruin of the priesthood, to the abolition of the sacrifice of the mass and of the sacraments, to the disappearance of religious life.'

Williamson, the son of an Anglican vicar, converted to Catholicism and joined SSPX which was strongly opposed to the direction of the Church after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s which looked to modernise the Church.

He was illicitly ordained as a bishop within the order in 1988, incurring automatic excommunication by Pope John Paul II, according to the Guardian.

The excommunication was lifted in January 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI in part of an attempted reconciliation with the  traditionalist group.

However around the same time, Williamson gave the Swedish TV interview insisting no Jews were killed by the Nazi's gas chambers. The Vatican said it did not know about the interview when it lifted his expulsion.

He was excommunicated again in 2015 after he ordained another former SSPX member as a bishop on Brazil.

In a letter to supporters at the time he said the Catholic Church's 'nightingale's nest' had been occupied by 'modernist cuckoos'.

'Wherever the remainder of the true nightingales are visibly gathered, in whatever makeshift nest, they are in the church, they are the true visible church, and their beautiful song testifies to anyone who has ears to hear that the cuckoos are nothing but cuckoos who have stolen the catholic nest which they presently occupy,' he wrote.