Vatican, Catholic bishops and Hizbullah allied in condemnation of Israeli TV show

Vatican, Catholic bishops and Hizbullah allied in condemnation of Israeli TV show

Catholic bishops in the Holy Land expressed outrage on Friday over what they called "repulsive attacks" on Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary after an Israeli TV program spoofed them. Hizbullah issued a statement on Thursday condemning the show. "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 on his mother, the blessed Virgin Mary, carried out on Channel 10 of the Israeli television," a statement by the bishops said.

Hizbullah said it was "deeply concerned with the insults against the blessed Virgin Mary and one of our great prophets Jesus Christ."

"Hizbullah puts this heinous offense in the hands of all defenders of human rights and freedom of belief," it said. "Zionists should put an end to their racism and their ridicule of religious symbols." 

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 apologized 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 called for an official 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 patriarch of Occupied Jerusalem as well as Armenian, Chaldean, Greek, Maronite and Syrian Catholic bishops.

The pontiff is scheduled to visit Israel in May. But the Vatican said Friday it has formally complained to the Israeli government over what it called an "offensive act of intolerance."

A statement from the Vatican press office said its representative in Israel complained to the government about the show, which was broadcast recently on private Channel 10, one of Israel”s three main TV stations.

The statement said the government quickly assured the Holy See that it would intervene to interrupt the transmission and get the broadcaster to publicly apologize.

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