UPDATE - Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, one of Poland's most prominent religious figures, is reported to have told an Italian Catholic news web site that the Holocaust was a "Jewish invention". The bishop says his remarks were "taken out of context" however.
"The Holocaust, as such, is a Jewish invention [invenzione ebraica]. We could just as well establish a day of remembrance to the numerous victims of communism, when Catholics and Christians were persecuted," he told the Pontifex.Roma web site on Sunday.
In remarks that will outrage Jews the world over, Bishop Pieronek said that in his opinion the memory of the Holocaust is often used as a "propaganda weapon" by Israel.
The Krakow-based bishop said: "Undoubtedly, the majority of those who died in the concentration camps were Jews, but also on the list were Poles, Gypsies, Italians and Catholics. So do not steal this tragedy in the name of propaganda."
"But they, the Jews, have a good press, because the powerful have the financial resources - extremely powerful with the unconditional support of the United States. And this promotes a kind of arrogance, which I consider to be unbearable," Bishop Pieronek continued.
The bishop expressed his opinion that the Palestinians are victims of injustice at the hands of the Israelis.
"Seeing the photographs of the [Gaza] wall we can conclude that a colossal injustice has been committed against the Palestinians, who are treated like animals and their rights are being violated."
"Let them establish [the international lobby] a Memorial Day for them also."
Out of context
Bishop Pieronek, however, says the interview printed on the Italian web site bares little resemblance to the one that he gave the journalist.
"I have not seen the printed text of the interview, which I have given but have not authorized. But if I were to believe in what I hear from the media then it looks as though the final form of the interview was the idea of the journalist that I had spoken to, as the text is full of vague statements."
The controversy comes Just two days before Holocaust remembrance Day on January 27 and prime minister of Israel Benyamin Netanyahu's visit to Poland for the 65 anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.(pg)