CATHOLIC bishops in the Holy Land have expressed outrage over what they call “repulsive attacks” on Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary after an Israeli TV program spoofed them.
“We, the members of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land deplore and condemn with utter dismay the repulsive attacks on our lord Jesus Christ and onÂ his mother, the blessed Virgin Mary, carried out on Channel 10 of the Israeli television,” the group said in a statement.
Earlier this week, the private channel broadcast a series of skits, one of which suggested the Virgin Mary “was impregnated at the age of 15 by a school friend.”
Another said Jesus died at a young age “because he was fat” and that his excess weight would have made it impossible for him to walk on water.
In the program, Israeli comedian Yair Shlein joked that since Christians “deny the Holocaust, then I want to deny Christianity.” Following protests, he later apologised to Arab Israeli Christian dignitaries.
The bishops said they viewed “this recent incident in the larger context of continuous attacks against Christians throughout Israel over the years” and urged authorities to launch an investigation.
“It is unconceivable that such incidents have to occur in Israel which hosts some of the holiest shrines of Christianity,” said the statement, signed by the Latin patriach of Jerusalem as well as Armenian, Chaldean, Greek, Maronite and Syrian Catholic bishops.
Uneasy relations between the Vatican and Israel have been further strained a by Pope Benedict XVI’s recent decision to lift the excommunication of Holocaust-denying English Bishop Richard Williamson.
The pontiff is scheduled to visit Israel in May.