Clergy Demand Pope Postpone Israel Trip After 'Like a Virgin' Television Spoof

Leading Christian and Muslim clergymen are calling on Pope Benedict XVI to postpone his planned visit to Israel, which is scheduled for May, in protest of a comedy skit seen on the late-night variety television show hosted by comedian Lior Shlein.

In a press conference held yesterday in Nazareth, religious leaders denounced Shlein for a spoof entitled "Like a Virgin," which depicts two characters who play Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

In the skit, Mary is heard saying she had slept with many men and that she was not a virgin at all. The provocative segment prompted Christian lawyers to consider filing legal motions against Shlein and his television home, Channel 10.

In response, Shlein sent a letter to one of the attorneys pledging to apologize on the air for the skit.

Christian leaders said Shlein's jokes are "hurtful and humiliating to Christianity." Salim Kubti, an attorney and the chairman of an umbrella organization representing Christian courts, said he and a number of other lawyers are considering a lawsuit against Channel 10.

"It's clear that Shlein is a failure and as a result is looking for any way to improve his ratings, and he is jumping on a sensitive issue," Kubti said. "These statements go beyond satire and dark humor. These are serious statements that insult the sensitivities of every Christian and anyone who possesses values and mutual respect for other religions."