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      Olmert Apologizes for TV Satire that Mocked Christian Faith

      PM says he regrets late-night show on Channel 2 that made fun of the Christian faith. The Vatican denounced the show, which mocked Jesus and Mary.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 2/22/2009, 10:36 PM

      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday in the weekly cabinet meeting that he regrets the uproar that was caused by Channel 2's late night show, which is hosted by comedian Lior Schlein.

      Olmert said: "I wish to take this opportunity to express reservations regarding some things which were said on a certain television show. I don't want the Israeli government to turn into a place for critiquing TV shows but if similar things had been said about the Jewish faith in another country then there would certainly be an outcry by the Jewish communities."

      The Prime Minister said that he has no intention of limiting freedom of expression in the country "but there is certainly room to demand common sense and responsibility and a degree of restraint, even if we are talking about a satirical program."

      Olmert said he especially wishes to apologize before the Christian community "which coexists with us in Israel."

      Olmert's statement came after a statement by the Vatican, which was issued at the request of leaders of the Christian communities in Israel following the airing of the show.

      The Vatican said that the skit named "Like a Virgin" made a mockery of Jesus and Mary and violated their sanctity, and called it a vulgar and hurtful display of intolerance towards the Christians' religious feelings. The Vatican added that the attack was upon "Mary and Jesus, the children of Israel."

      One skit portrayed Jesus as a fat man who ate too much sacramental bread and in another Schlein said that Mary sold pornographic items.

      After dozens of Christians filed complaints, the airing of some of the skits was cancelled and others were taken off the show's website.