The Vatican has joined in condemnation of what it called a blasphemous satire of Christianity on an Israeli television network.
In a statement on Friday, the Vatican described the remarks about Mary and Jesus, aired earlier in the week, as a vulgar and offensive act of intolerance.
It expressed support for Christian and Catholic leaders in the Holy Land who had already denounced the broadcast and pointed out that Jesus and Mary were themselves children of Israel.
In a separate development a group of Christian lawyers called on Pope Benedict XVI not to go ahead with his planned visit to the Holy Land in May.
The host of the TV show, Lior Shlein, said the jokes were in retaliation for a statement by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X and other Christian clerics, denying the Holocaust. Shlein has since apologised for any offence caused.