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Official Apologizes For Jokes On Pope

A Cabinet minister has apologized for a poking fun at Pope John Paul II and Roman Catholic Prime Minister Jim Bolger during a radio talk show.

New Zealand’s Catholic Church, along with the pope’s diplomatic representative, complained after Tourism Minister John Banks conducted an interview Sunday with a caller who claimed to be the pontiff, complete with fake Polish accent. Many listeners complained.

Banks hosts the show every Sunday morning. His hardline conservative comments regularly stir up controversy.

Bolger, who needs Banks’ support to maintain a slim parliamentary majority and stay in office, has consistently refused to rebuke him publicly.

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