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Canal slapped for pope puppetry

Sketched referred to pontiff as 'Hitler II'

PARIS — Cabler Canal Plus was reprimanded Wednesday by Gaul’s audiovisual watchdog for a sketch about Pope Benedict XVI aired on satirical puppet program “Les Guignols.”

The sketch, which referred to the new pope as “Hitler II” and had his puppet blessing the faithful “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Third Reich,” drew the ire of France’s Conference of Bishops, as well as Gaul’s Representative Counsel of Jewish Institutions, when it aired April 20.

Both orgs complained to the Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel in April, and Canal Plus “expressed its extreme regrets” for the sketch, which referred to Pope Benedict’s affiliation to the Hitler Youth movement during his childhood in Germany.

Symbolically chastising the paybox, the CSA said Canal must “respect the different political, cultural and religious sensibilities of the public.”

The formal notice, which is a warning and carries no fine or sanction, is the first given to the popular show, which has mocked everything from the events surrounding 9/11 to the sex life of President Jacques Chirac.

Religious caricature has become a hot issue in France over the last few years, resulting in the boycott of certain comedians for what were seen as inappropriate or bigoted comments.