Vatican Slams Berlusconi Over Jewish Joke
It was 'just a laugh,' insists premier
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Oct 4, 2010 1:42 AM CDT
Updated Oct 4, 2010 4:28 AM CDT
Demonstrators hold a dummy of Silvio Berlusconi as they gather in downtown Rome for a "No Berlusconi-Day" rally.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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(Newser) – The Vatican yesterday lashed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for making a joke about Jews last week that stunned and infuriated his countrymen. The "deplorable" joke "offended the sentiment of believers and the sacred memory of 6 million Holocaust victims," blasted an editorial in the Vatican's official newspaper. Berlusconi cracked that a Jew charged another Jew $4,500 a day to hide him in his basement during the Holocaust. "The Jew paid up because he had the money, but do you think" the other Jew "should tell him that Hitler has died and the war is over?" Berlusconi asked.

The story, told to supporters outside Berlusconi's home, was filmed and posted on the website of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Berlusconi has shrugged off the criticism, saying that the joke was "just a laugh" made "in private, not offensive and not a sin," reports the Telegraph. Opposition leader Pier Luigi Bersani noted: "I'm amazed that a person capable of such vulgarities should be running a country like ours."