- The Vatican on Friday protested to Israel about a TV show containing ''blasphemous'' skits on Jesus and Mary.
In a statement, the Holy See said Israeli authorities had promised to stop any such shows. The Vatican nuncio in Israel contacted the government after protests from the country's Catholic community about the show on private TV channel 101.In the programme, which aired earlier this week, the host attempted to humorously deny Christian beliefs - that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water - saying he could do so because Christians deny the Holocaust.
This was a reference to the Vatican's recent lifting of the excommunication of an ultraconservative bishop, Richard Williamson, who denies that six million Jews were killed during World War II.Jesus and Mary were ''ridiculed with blasphemous words and images,'' the Vatican statement said. ''The authorities promptly assured they would intervene to stop such broadcasts and obtain a public apology from the broadcaster,'' the Vatican said.
The Holy See voiced solidarity with the Christians in the Holy Land over the ''vulgar and offensive'' incident, pointing out that the targets of the show were born in Israel.
The programme went out a few days ago, at about the time that Pope Benedict XVI's May trip to the Holy Land was offically announced.
The pope has repeatedly condemned Williamson's statements, stressing that he wasn't aware of his views when he lifted the excommunication. The Holocaust-denying bishop, whose rehabilitation caused a rift between the Vatican and Jews, has now been asked to leave Argentina where he headed a seminary for his traditionalist Catholic group.
Argentine authorities have given Willamson ten days to leave or face expulsion on the grounds that he lied about his reasons for being in the country.