ROME (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apologized for an Israeli television satire of Christianity.
"I regret the statements against the Christian religion, particularly against the Christian community living with us in Israel in coexistence," he said Sunday at the Cabinet meeting.
"I have no intention of limiting the freedom of speech in the country, but there is definitely room to demand sensibleness and restraint, even if we are talking about a satiric show," he said.
The Vatican said its representative in Israel had voiced concerns to the Israeli government about the skit on Israel’s private Channel 10.
A Vatican statement released Feb. 20 said the skit, broadcast earlier this month on a late-night show, had "ridiculed — with blasphemous words and images — the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary."
The skit made a sarcastic reference to Mary becoming pregnant at age 15 by a school friend, and said Jesus could never have walked on water because "he was so fat he was ashamed to leave the house, let alone go to the Sea of Galilee with a bathing suit."
"Such a vulgar and offensive act of intolerance toward the religious sentiments of believers in Christ must be deplored," the Vatican statement said.
The Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land also condemned the skit, which was aired following the uproar over the pope’s revocation of the excommunication ban on an ultraconservative bishop who denies the Holocaust.